(JTA) — A few dozen young people in London said Kaddish, the Jewish mourning prayer, for Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during clashes in Gaza.
Wednesday’s event was advertised on the Facebook page of Meretz UK, the British branch of the left-leaning Israeli political party.
The activists gathered outside Parliament Square , reading the names of the 62 Gazan Palestinians listed by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza as killed in riots Monday. Thousands of Palestinians rushed the fence with Israel, dozens of them wielding firebombs, and Israeli troops responded with live fire. The militant Hamas party said many of those killed were its members. The riots were part of a march organized by Hamas with the stated goal of breaching the border fence and crossing into Israel.
The list of names began with Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old baby who a Palestinian physician and health official said was killed by teargas fired by Israel. On Wednesday, however,the same official told The Times of Israel that the cause of her death is unknown due to a preexisting medical condition.
The deaths of the Palestinians and Israel’s actions have divided Jews in Britain and elsewhere outside of Israel. In its statement reacting to the violence, the heads of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said they were “anguished at the violent scenes and loss of life,” but placed responsibility on Hamas.
“No state could allow its borders to be breached by those who openly wish harm to its civilians,” their statement said. “Israel is defending its people from repeated violent attempts at mass invasion.”
In response, more than 500 people signed a letter from the British Jewish peace group Yachad, saying the Board of Deputies failed “to place any responsibility on Israel for how it polices its borders and deals with the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, or acknowledge the highly irresponsible role that the United States has played in fanning the flames of an already tense and volatile time, by opening its embassy in Jerusalem.”