Kuala Lumpur Post

World

Thousands march in London pro-Palestinian rally

LONDON — Hundreds of members of the Jewish community and their supporters blew ram’s horn shofars and whistles in London on Sunday in a call to free Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas in a bloody attack last October.

The chorus of horn blows at Abbey Road in central London lasted for 1.55 minutes, marking the 155 days the hostages have been in captivity.

The attack on southern Israel that triggered the war resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign to destroy Hamas has killed more than 31,000 in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry.

Around 100 hostages remain in Gaza alive and 31 are presumed dead, Israel has said.

Organisers said the shofar chorus was to show solidarity with the hostages.

Marcel Knobil, who organised the event, said the families of hostages were in “total shock.”

“To see this and torment to be lifted from all these family members would be just a dream for me and the world Jewish community.”

The “extraordinary haunting wails” of the shofar were intended to re-awaken the world to the “horrific October 7th massacre” and dire conditions that the hostages were being kept in, he said.

Rabbi Naftali Schiff, the chief executive of Jewish Future’s Trust charity, said the shofar is traditionally blown at the holiest moments of the Jewish calendar.

“The sound of the shofar is a primal and guttural one that serves to remind us of the basic innate goodness of mankind,” he said.

“We are blowing the shofar as a universal act of prayer and hope that our innocent hostages – men, women and children – shall come home.”

Weeks of talks involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators have aimed for a six-week truce and the release of many the hostages Hamas is still holding in return for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, with no result so far.

On Saturday, thousands of protesters marched in London calling for a ceasefire in Gaza amid ongoing bombardments by Israel.

Regular marches protesting Israel’s military response to the attacks have seen dozens arrested for anti-Semitic chanting and banners, promoting a proscribed organisation and assaulting emergency workers.

The march, from Hyde Park Corner to the US Embassy, was the fifth major demonstration of the year in the capital. — AFP