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There is nothing ordinary about this advocacy campaign for a large UN institution. The lights dim before a packed audience and a slideshow begins: images of Gaza in conflict, people fleeing their homes, buildings on fire. Then stands Chris Gunness, the chief spokesman of the UN Relief and Works Agency, the organisation responsible for the support and welfare of Palestinian refugees. "I am a warehouse," he says. "I am a dying warehouse, the victim of an excruciatingly painful fire that burned me down." It is the start of a remarkable 20-minute, one-man play intended for Israeli audiences but so far unwelcome in Israeli theatres. It tells the story of the main UN warehouse in Gaza, a storage point for food and aid for a million Palestinians, and how it was hit repeatedly by Israeli artillery shells, some loaded with white phosphorous, during the Gaza war – how it was set ablaze and burnt to the ground. This is a story that "until now has remained buried, untold," Gunness said at the debut performance of his show at the French Cultural Centre, east Jerusalem, on Wednesday night.
Gunness doesn't accuse Israel of war crimes in the show.But, during the first performance in May, a man in the audience got up to disrupt the show and accuse Gunness of distorting the facts.Berger said the show generates a strong reaction from Israelis, most of whom serve some time in the military. Many are jarred by the images."People can't face reality and, once they do face it, it's realizing that a lot of what you have been taught to believe is true (isn't) necessarily true," she said. "All your truths collapse — and this is something very difficult to face."