Mothers protest at Downing Street over child death toll in Gaza

Six thousand children have been killed under Israeli bombardment, according to the Gaza's health ministry

Mothers and their children demonstrate outside Downing Street in London over the deaths of Palestinian children in Gaza. Photo: Friends of Al Aqsa
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Mothers and their children gathered outside Downing Street in London on Thursday to highlight the Palestinian children killed in the Israel-Gaza war.

White cardboard coffins bearing the names of children killed were placed in the street opposite the Prime Minister’s residence. Children gathered around them, holding Palestinian flags and wearing traditional Palestinian scarves.

Noha, a mother from East London who came with her children, said she fears the world has become “cruel” because Palestinian children are being killed with no intervention from the international community.

“I came to share my feelings of frustration, of living in this unjust and unfair world, and to share my worry about living in this cruel world,” she told The National.

More than 15,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, about 6,000 of them children, according to the Gaza health ministry. About 1,200 people were killed in Israel during the Hamas attack on October 7, with more than 240 taken hostage.

A truce between Israel and Hamas has been extended for another 24 hours, entering its second week tomorrow. The pause in fighting has seen the release of 81 hostages from Hamas captivity and 180 Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons, and has allowed more humanitarian aid to get through.

Noha was saddened by the killing and kidnapping of civilians on all sides, and stressed it was important to address the root causes of the conflict. The events since October 7 had been upsetting to the whole family. “We’re following the news all the time, we see the murder of children and babies, the bombings of hospitals and schools,” she said.

Another mother said her six-year old who had raised funds for Ukrainian children with their school last year, had come home asking why there were no fund-raisers for Palestinian children.

The British government has expressed support for Israel’s “right” to defend itself within international law. However, last week Foreign Secretary David Cameron appeared to warn Israel over Gaza’s civilian casualties, when he said the government would “keep making these points about humanitarian law [to Israel], not just in Gaza but in the West Bank.”

The protesters felt the UK’s support for Israel in the first weeks of the war gave it a green light to disregard civilian deaths.

“The reason why we’re outside Downing Street is to show the complicity from our government, by the failure of calling for a ceasefire, that has resulted in the killing of these children,” said Shamiul Joarder, who organised the protest with Friends of Al Aqsa, a UK charity.

His hopes, however, were low. “We expect the government to be the last to respond, but we need to keep trying until there is a ceasefire,” he said.

He pointed to the resignations of shadow cabinet ministers and councillors over Labour's stance on the issue, and a local council passing a motion to call for a ceasefire this week. “Yes it’s slow, but we need to continue to campaign at a political level, at a grass roots community level, and every level we can,” he added.

“We will continue to campaign until we see an end to the siege and an end to apartheid,” he added.

Updated: November 30, 2023, 2:51 PM