(JERUSALEM) — The foundation behind the prestigious Genesis Prize says this year’s winner, Natalie Portman, has pulled out of the June awards ceremony in Israel, quoting a representative for the U.S. actress as saying recent events in Israel were “extremely distressing to her.”
The Genesis Prize Foundation says it was informed Portman “does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel.”
The statement late Thursday did not refer to specific events. Israel has faced criticism for its response to mass protests on the Gaza-Israel border, in which 28 Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli fire since March 30. Israel says it’s defending its border.
More from TIME
The foundation says it fears Portman’s decision will “cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized.”
The prize recognizes Jewish achievement and contributions to humanity.