A few dozen young London Jews said Kaddish, the Jewish mourning prayer, for fatalities in Gaza, which a Hamas official said mostly belonged to his organisation.
The activists gathered outside Parliament Square Wednesday, reading the names of the 62 Gazan Palestinians listed by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza as killed in riots Monday between tens of thousands of protesters, dozens of them wielding firebombs, and Israeli troops guarding the border with Gaza.
The riots were part of a march organised by Hamas whose stated goal was to breach the border fence and cross into Israel.
The event was advertised on the Facebook page of Meretz UK, the UK branch of the left-leaning Israeli political party.
The list of names at the beginning of the Kaddish prayer began with Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old baby who Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, director of public relations for the ministry, on Tuesday listed as killed by Israel. On Wednesday, however, he told The Times of Israel that the cause of her death is unknown due to a pre-existing medical condition.
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Salah Al Bardawil, a Hamas lawmaker and spokesperson in Khan Yunis, on Wednesday said that 50 out of the 62 people listed as killed Monday were members of his organisation. Israel has identified only 24 fatalities as belonging to Hamas.
“When Palestinian stand resolute on the Gazan border their freedom and their right to return, they are not committing acts of terrorism, they are performing a mitzvah,” one of the speakers at the Kaddish for Gaza event said.
“I am here because I refuse to sit by as my community doesn’t condemn outrageous acts of violence,” a participant said. Another said: I’m here because I’m sick of listening to [people] equivocate and make excuses for Israel.”
A woman speaking with an Israeli accent while holding up her phone said: “I’m here to tell each one of you: Shame on you.” She was shoved away from the event by a tall man who stood in front of her phone to prevent her from filming the event.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews in a statement Wednesday said it was “profoundly anguished at the violent scenes and loss of life at the Israel-Gaza border,” but added that, “The responsibility for the violence lies with Hamas, a terrorist organisation with the explicit stated aim of murdering Israeli civilians and the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel.”
The Israel Advocacy Movement’s filmed the activists during their demonstration: