15,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square, according to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, “to stand in solidarity and to call for the release of the hostages taken by Hamas terrorists,” a few days after London police removed billboards from the Campaign Against Antisemitism depicting pictures of kidnapped children held in Gaza.
The nearly 265-year-old representative organization posted images on social media of waves of Israeli flags and individuals holding posters with photos of hostages taken by Hamas; these images match the demonstrations that the police had halted days before. “Bring Them Home” was the theme of the gathering of support.
According to Daniel Sugarman, public affairs director for the Board of Deputies, “to give you some idea of what we’re talking about here, this is more than 5% of the entire Jewish population of the UK, assembled at less than 48 hours notice, even taking into account allies in the crowd.”
“The biggest Jewish community gathering in Britain in decades,” Marie van der Zyl, head of the Board of Deputies, addressed the audience and said, “We are here today to speak on behalf of those who have been taken from us and have no voice.” We are all speaking together as one as we demand that they be returned home.
Family members revealed their agony at not hearing from loved ones who Hamas was keeping hostage at a news conference on October 12 in London. “People who survived the Holocaust found themselves facing another one,” Noam Sagi, a British-Israeli psychotherapist whose mother was held prisoner, told reporters. He pleaded with journalists to “call Hamas for what they are.”
The news conference was organized by the British-Israeli director of Defend Israeli Democracy UK, Sharon Shochat, who described the hostage situation as the “biggest hostage crisis the world has faced” in recent memory.