16 January 2024, The Tablet

Pro-Palestine marchers renew demands for ceasefire

Pro-Palestine marchers renew demands for ceasefire

Members of Pax Christi England and Wales marched under the banner, “Put Away Your Sword.” (Matthew 26:52).
Pax Christi England and Wales.

Christian groups joined marches last Saturday in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin and elsewhere, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza as part of a “global day of action for Palestine”.

In London, where hundreds of thousands took to the streets, members of Pax Christi England and Wales marched under the banner, “Put Away Your Sword.” (Matthew 26:52).

“As we walked, we held, and continue to hold, in our prayers all our friends and partners in Gaza and the West Bank,” said chair Anne Farr. “In solidarity with them we hope for justice, freedom and equality for everyone in the Holy Land” she added. Alongside were members of the London Catholic Worker, Christian CND, Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and Quakers. Also, Columban Sisters and Sisters of St Joseph of Peace.

They walked behind a group of marchers who described themselves as “Jews for Palestine”. “Little Amal”, 3.5 metre tall puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee girl, that made the 8,000 km journey from the Syrian border to Manchester in 2021 to highlight the plight of child refugees, was at the front of the march, accompanied by a group of Palestinian children. This was the seventh national march for Palestine in London organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign since last October.

Justice and Peace Scotland joined marches in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In Ireland, the Dublin march was one of the biggest in Ireland in recent years. In Cork, some people carried small bundles in white sheets to represent the dead babies of Gaza.

The Peace Pledge Union has called for both a ceasefire in Gaza and for a stop to the bombing of Yemen. One of UK’s leading pacifist organisations, it condemned the US-UK operation in Yemen as “a reckless act of escalation” which could embroil Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other states. The PPU also condemned Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, which endanger regional security and threaten the lives of shipping crews.

Pax Christi Scotland criticised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for the Yemen campaign, saying on social media, “If the PM wants to enhance his political reputation, he’d seek peace through dialogue, not this futile aggression.”

A multifaith “walking meditation for peace” has been organised in central London on Sunday, meeting in Trafalgar Square at midday. It is a response to the escalating violence and conflict globally, with a specific focus on the Gaza conflict. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and others are expected to join the walk from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square and back.

Aid to the Church in Need has announced a second package of emergency aid for Christians who have lost their livelihoods because of the war in Gaza. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is being sent £430,000 between January and April 2024, bringing the combined total amount of assistance provided since the start of the fighting last October to nearly £600,000. Around £260,000 is supporting about 1,000 Christians remaining in Gaza. The rest will help Christian families in the West Bank and East Jerusalem who have also been impacted by the ongoing conflict. Marco Mencaglia, ACN’s director of projects, said, “The effects of the war are being felt all over the region, and Christians, who are a minority but still a significant community – around 45,000 in the West Bank and 10,000 in East Jerusalem – are being affected in a very direct way.”



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