Vigil held in London to commemorate victims killed across Israel, Palestine
'We know that history did not begin on Oct. 7 and that the Palestinians have faced years of injustice and degradation at the hands of the Israeli state,' says Jewish activist group
By Burak Bir
LONDON (AA) - British Jews held a community vigil Monday in London to mourn those who were killed since Oct. 7 across Israel and Palestine.
Around 100 people recited prayers and shared testimonies to remember Israeli and Palestinian victims at the "shloshim," meaning “thirty” in Hebrew, the first month of mourning following the funeral.
The attendees shared their experiences with each other as small groups and then lit candles for the victims during the event, which was organized by the Jewish activist group Na'amod at Castlehaven Community Park in Camden Town.
They also sang songs in solidarity with the victims.
Speaking at the event on behalf of the group, Naama, who gave her first name only, said they "fight for a time when there will no longer be a need to hold public vigils" for those who have been killed simply for being Palestinians or Israelis.
"We are here to express our resistance to the dangerous obstructions that cause civilians to be legitimate targets on the basis of their nationality and subject them to indiscriminate slaughter," she noted.
Touching on the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, Naama said they gathered also to protest against the collective punishment of over 2 million people in the besieged enclave.
Reminding that thousands of Palestinian workers from Gaza who entered Israeli legally before Oct. 7 were being held in detention, she said this reminds everyone that many other Palestinians have been held for years in Israeli prisons without charge.
"We know that history did not begin on Oct. 7 and that the Palestinians have faced years of injustice and degradation at the hands of the Israeli state," Naama noted.
She also called for a cease-fire, the release of all hostages and the lifting of the siege in Gaza.
"Only a political solution, equality and freedom for all, can ever bring collective safety and the hope for flourishing for both peoples," she added.
Some participants read testimonies from Israeli survivors of the Oct. 7 attacks and from Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.
- Paramilitary groups in Israel
One of them, Heli Mishael, an Israeli peace activist, spoke about her experience since the ongoing conflict began.
Criticizing the Israeli policy against Palestinians and the blockade of the Gaza Strip, she said that politicians "sold" people that they could put 2 million people in prison and live in security.
Saying that 24,000 firearms sent by the US to Israel led to armed paramilitary groups that control the streets, Mishael said that along with friends, she was also personally attacked by one of them.
In October, the US reportedly warned Tel Aviv that it would not send American-made rifles after Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir was seen distributing guns to civilians.
"They're looking for people to make mistakes through looking to start another war from inside Israel. They want that because they see this as an opportunity. They say 'Well, finally we can go back to Gaza. Finally we can have more inside Israel and expel Palestinians," she noted.
Mishael also noted that such groups don't care about ordinary people who live in Israel but they care about an "extremist ideology" and are ready to pay with Israeli lives "to achieve their goals."
Israel has launched air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7.
At least 10,022 Palestinians, including 4,104 children and 2,641 women, have been killed in Israeli bombardments in the Gaza Strip.
Another 159 Palestinians have been killed and 2,250 injured by Israeli forces across the West Bank in the same period.
The Israeli death toll is nearly 1,600, according to official figures.
Besides the large number of casualties and massive displacements, basic supplies are running low for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents due to the Israeli siege.
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