The 5th Palestine Festival of Literature (2012), taking place in Gaza for the first time, was shut down by the police on Wednesday evening. Three hours later, the Chief of Police visited the participants to officially apologize, stating it was an “individual error”
The closing event, in Dar al Basha, a historical house in Gaza City, was ordered to close down by police forces. Though the festival organisers had co-ordinated extensively with the Ministry of Culture the police cited “lack of a license” as the reason.
The participants and audience members all left the venue together, and boarded the festival bus and returned to the hotel, where the event was continued in the café.
Three hours later, the Chief of Police, his deputy and a colonel in the Interior Ministry visited the hotel. They officially apologized, stating that they have opened an investigation into what happened, that all the festival volunteers would be safe, and that personal effects that had been left behind in the confusion would be found and returned. They stated that PalFest would always be welcome in Gaza.
As planned, the festival will leave Gaza tomorrow in preparation for its closing event in Cairo on May 11th.