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British film, theatre figures slam Israel’s bombing of Gaza cultural centre

A painting in a frame is seen during an exhibition that held by a group of Palestinian artists, after Israeli forces hit the area with airstrikes at the Art and Craft Village in Gaza City, Gaza on 16 July, 2018 [Hassan Jedi/Anadolu Agency]
A painting in a frame is seen during an exhibition that held by a group of Palestinian artists, after Israeli forces hit the area with airstrikes at the Art and Craft Village in Gaza City, Gaza on 16 July, 2018 [Hassan Jedi/Anadolu Agency]

Mamma Mia!” and “The Iron Lady” director Phyllida Lloyd is “ among those lamenting the “devastating loss” after Israeli warplanes demolished the Said Al-Mishal Cultural Centre”,  according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Last week, a group of 14 noted British playwrights and directors, including Lloyd, Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, and Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre, “signed a letter in the Guardiancondemning the destruction”.

“Since its establishment in 2004, Al-Mishal served as a home for hundreds of plays, ceremonies, exhibits, musical performances and national ceremonies. It was the venue of choice for theatre companies in Gaza and a space for Gaza’s top musical acts,” it read. “The centre also included recreational activities for children who were affected by three successive wars in Gaza, including the first dabke school for 250 children. It is a devastating loss for the already isolated community.”

Major damage to arts centre and children’s facilities from latest Israeli airstrike on Gaza 

The signatories were also “deeply shocked” that the attack hadn’t been widely reported in the British press and offered their support to their “friends and colleagues who describe their great rage and deep pain at the obliteration of this symbol of Palestinian culture and identity”.

The Hollywood Reporter noted how the Centre was “the second-largest theatre in the territory” and offered children “a proper screen in a darkened hall, cushioned seats and something that could be equated to a normal cinema experience”.

People take a look at paintings among wreckage of buildings during an exhibition that held by a group of Palestinian artists, after Israeli forces hit the area with airstrikes at the Art and Craft Village in Gaza City, Gaza on 16 July, 2018 [Hassan Jedi/Anadolu Agency]

People take a look at paintings among wreckage of buildings during an exhibition that held by a group of Palestinian artists, after Israeli forces hit the area with airstrikes at the Art and Craft Village in Gaza City, Gaza on 16 July, 2018 [Hassan Jedi/Anadolu Agency]

On 9 August, Israeli jets destroyed the Centre with ten missiles, levelling the building. Though the army claimed the Centre was a military target, “this claim was rebuked by several Palestinian sources, including one referenced in the Israeli media”.

“The Said Al-Mishal Cultural Center provided spaces of entertainment and joy for generations of children and young people in Gaza; it is in total ruins now,” the Gaza Children’s Cinema initiative said in a statement.

“In the days that followed and in defiance of the attack, local musicians and a circus group would perform on the rubble,” the Hollywood Reporteradded.

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