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Israel-backed theatre show forced to quit the Fringe

PRO-PALESTINE activists in Scotland rejoiced yesterday after their Israeli boycott protests forced a state-funded theatre company out of an Edinburgh Fringe venue.

Incubator Theatre — partly funded by Israel’s Ministry of Culture — had been due to stage a four-week run of its film-noir musical The City at the Underbelly, regarded by many as the heart of the festival.

But organisers confirmed yesterday that Incubator’s booking had been axed in the wake of a raucous four-hour picket outside a review performance earlier this week, with protesters calling on the festival to join a worldwide cultural boycott in light of the Israeli military’s ongoing slaughter of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

A statement from the theatre company complained that the demonstration was “carefully designed to cause maximum disruption” and insisted the group would seek an alternative venue.

Meanwhile Fringe organisers insisted that Incubator’s ejection was “a practical decision based on the whole picture and the disruption to all the other shows that are here.”

The festival existed to promote freedom of expression for all artists, regardless of creed or nation, they added.

The picket follows a public condemnation of Incubator’s invitation to the Fringe in an open letter signed by dozens of leading figures in Scotland’s arts community, including national poet Liz Lochhead.

Activists with the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said yesterday they planned to continue their campaign until Incubator’s performances were cancelled altogether.

Spokesman Albie O’Neill said: “The level of support from the public has been overwhelming and reflects the strength of feeling against this Israeli state-funded theatre company and revulsion over what is happening in Gaza.”

It follows the Scottish government’s announcement earlier this week that it will offer £500,000 in humanitarian aid to help Gazan victims of the assault.

More than 1,300 Palestinians — mostly civilians and including at least 200 children, according to UN figures — have been killed since Israel renewed its bombing campaigns three weeks ago, with the bombing of the strip’s only power station on Tuesday expected to escalate the death toll still further as local hospitals struggle to keep lifesaving equipment online.

A total of 35 Israeli civilians have been killed by rocket and mortar attacks launched from Gaza since 2001, fewer than the number of Israeli deaths attributed to asthma — 89 — each year.


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