24 October 2023

Vigil held in London to mourn children killed in Gaza

24 October 2023

A vigil to mourn the children killed in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas conflict has been held in London.

Around 60 people gathered in Parliament Square for the event on Tuesday, which was organised by the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, more than 5,000 Palestinians, including around 2,000 children and 1,100 women, have been killed in the conflict so far.

Each person attending the vigil had the name of a Palestinian child killed in the conflict written on the palm of their hand.

This mirrors the actions of children in Gaza who have started to write their own names on their hands as a means of identifying their bodies, should they be killed in the attacks.

A message written by nine-year-old Zeina Abu Libdeh, who was displaced from her home in the Al Remal area of Gaza, was read out to mourners.

Part of the message said: “I can barely go to the toilet. I used to like watching videos on the phone but now I am scared as all of it is footage of children’s bodies shattered into pieces. I miss my neighbours and I miss my friends. I no longer play. Our life is a nightmare… Please let the war end.”

A minute’s silence was also held to pay respect to the victims.

Melanie Ward, chief executive of MAP, told the PA news agency after the vigil: “What is happening is unacceptable, it is very clearly not being conducted in line with international law and the world, British Government and the Israelis have a responsibility to protect the children of Gaza, and it is clear the only way to do that is to have a ceasefire now.”

Ms Ward said the charity has 20 staff on the ground in Gaza trying to provide support, but they are “struggling to survive” and cannot deliver a humanitarian response under constant bombardment.

She added: “They are drinking contaminated water, they have candles and not electricity, they’re eating one meal a day, they don’t know if a bomb is going to fall on their house next.

“In fact, two of them have already had their homes bombed.”

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said she attended the vigil because she is “heartbroken like everyone else”, and she echoed the calls for a ceasefire.

She said: “I think telling the stories on the ground is incredibly important.

“For a lot of the British public this will be the first time many of them have engaged with this issue, and it is a complex one.”

Ms Moran, who has extended family in Gaza, said innocent civilians should not suffer as a consequence of “what is clearly a barbarous act by Hamas”, but stressed the answer to that violence is “not what is happening now”.

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