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Tears of emotion as 40,000 in London call for unconditional release of Israeli hostages

Pro-Israel rally in London, June 2, 2024 (Photo: Tony Margiocchi)

In the biggest UK show of solidarity since the Oct. 7 Hamas massacres, around 40,000 people marched through London on Sunday, under the banner ‘United We Bring Them Home.’

An array of Jewish, Christian and secular organizations supported the event, organized by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum UK. Speakers included family members of hostages, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel, Lord Polak CBE, and Prof. Daniel Shek, former Israeli ambassador to France.

Prof. Shek said he was “used” to seeing Hostages Square in Tel Aviv always busy, “but the crowd today, what I am seeing before me, the experience today brings tears to my eyes, you are amazing.”

“We cry out for those who have lost their voice, we cry out and shout for them,” the professor added, as participants got ready to release their bright yellow balloons, representing the 120 hostages still in Hamas captivity.

“The sun came out in full force as we gathered in the park,” said Jo Rees, a Christian and one of the volunteer stewards at the event. She explained that many of the attendees were organized according to their synagogues.

The march took place from Holborn down to Downing Street, the residence of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Those who marched wore stickers with the number 240, representing the number of days that hostages have been held in captivity; a practice begun by Rachel Goldberg, mother of 23-year-old hostage, Hersh Goldberg-Polin.

“It was like herding cats as so many more people attended than expected, but ALL were welcome,” Rees said. “The buzz was palpable, flags galore, delighted hugs when people recognised each other in the crowd…

“Speakers were wheeled through the streets playing positive music, along with loud-hailers chanting ‘Bring them home NOW’, and, ‘No hostages, no ceasefire!’”

Rees said, for her, “the most emotional thing was coming face to face with hostage families.”

The crowd heard from the parents of Oz Daniel (19), who was killed and abducted by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7; the relatives of Ron Benjamin, 52, who was murdered and abducted; and the relatives of hostage Omer Neutra, 22.

Relatives of Israeli hostage Omer Neutra speaking at a pro-Israel rally in London, June 2, 2024 (Photo: Jo Rees)

Oz’s mother said they were not “political people,” but the issue of the “unconditional release of the hostages is not a political issue, but a humanitarian issue, one that should concern every human being around the world.”

Referring to the Eurovision 2024 song, "Hurricane," performed by Eden Golan in Malmö Sweden last month, when the British public awarded Israel their full vote of 12 points, despite the UK jury not granting any points for the song, Rees said:

“Hurricane/October Rain was sung by us all, which never fails to reduce me to tears, because that ultimately is what it’s all about.”

Eurovision censored Israel's original entry, "October Rain," claiming it was too political for its emotional portrayal of Israel's trauma since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack, kidnappings and ongoing war.

On Monday morning, Israeli news channels reported that the remains of Dolev Yehud, 35, were discovered in Israel. He was thought to have been taken hostage. This brings the number of hostages remaining in Gaza, both alive and deceased, to 120.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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