Open letter denounces Israel’s bombing of Gaza cultural centre
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Open letter denounces Israel’s bombing of Gaza cultural centre

Directors and playwrights criticise the IDF's reported destruction of the Said al-Mishal Centre, which was a '“symbol of Palestinian culture and identity”

A Palestinian Hamas military policeman inspects the damage caused by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. Israel struck targets in the Gaza Strip after dozens of rockets were launched Wednesday from the coastal territory ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas group, the Israeli military said. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian Hamas military policeman inspects the damage caused by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. Israel struck targets in the Gaza Strip after dozens of rockets were launched Wednesday from the coastal territory ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas group, the Israeli military said. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Leading lights in the world of British theatre have penned an angry open letter denouncing the bombing of Gaza’s main cultural centre by Israel.

Directors and playwrights were reacting to the destruction of the Said al-Mishal Centre, was one of the Strip’s few venues big enough to host plays, performances and exhibitions, saying it was a “symbol of Palestinian culture and identity”.

The Israel Defence Forces posted images of the five-storey building being flattened by a bomb last Thursday, saying it was being used by “the Hamas terror organisation for military purposes”.

In their open letter to The Guardian, the signatories said the centre was “the venue of choice for theatre companies in Gaza and a space for Gaza’s top musical acts”.

They added that the centre “also included recreational activities for children who were affected by three successive wars in Gaza, including the first dabkeh school for 250 children… It is a devastating loss for the already isolated community”.

The signatories include the artistic directors of the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Lyceum Theatre and the English Touring Theatre, as well as well-known names such as playwright Caryl Churchill and director Rufus Norris.

Churchill, who is a patron of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, caused controversy in 2009 with her short ten-minute play titled ‘Seven Jewish Children,’ which was later described as “anti-Semitic” by several commentators including Melanie Phillips.

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