Actor Manal Issa Protests Israel’s Gaza Massacre at ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Red Carpet Premiere

Lebanese actor Manal Issa used the international premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story at the Cannes Film Festival to protest Israeli snipers killing more than 100 Palestinian protesters and wounding 12,000 more over the course of six weeks of protests.

Solo: A Star Wars Story screened Tuesday, with director Ron Howard and cast members Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson and Joonas Suotamo (who has replaced Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca) appearing on the red carpet.

Issa’s red carpet protest—a sign reading “Stop the attack on Gaza”—followed the massacre of 60 unarmed protesters on Monday, with the Israel Defense Forces citing rocks, “arson kites,” wire cutters and burning tires, lit to impede sniper fire. The IDF described “children” and “disabled civilians” as “Hamas’s tools for infiltrating Israel,” demonstrating “Hamas can turn anything into a weapon of terror.” Israeli army claims of protesters planting grenades and improvised explosives along the Gaza fence have not been verified.

The wave of protests coincide with Palestinian’s annual Nakba Day, or “Day of Catastrophe,” commemorating the expulsion, both prior to and after the 1948 Israel Declaration of Independence, of approximately 80 percent of Arab inhabitants on the land that became Israel. Protesters demonstrated over both the right of return—the longstanding position that Palestinian refugees have a right to the property they were forced to leave—and the ongoing blockade of Gaza. Since 2007, Israel has controlled land, air and sea access to the Gaza Strip, decimating the Gaza economy, denying Palestinians the right to travel abroad and banning a wide array of food products, household items and construction materials. A 2008 U.S. Embassy cable, provided to Wikileaks by Chelsea Manning, described Israeli officials as confirming the “overall embargo plan” as keeping “the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.”

Issa, who most recently appeared in the Arabic-language drama My Favorite Fabric, was joined in protest by a solidarity demonstration held at the Palestinian Pavilion in Cannes, attended by Star Wars actor Benicio del Toro (Star Wars: The Last Jedi).

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