Preston's teddy bear tribute to children killed in Gaza war
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Around 400-500 teddy bears and cuddly toys were also laid out at the event, intended to represent just some of the now 4,000 Gazan children reported to have died in the war. The toys were then distributed to passers by in an attempt to raise local awareness of the human suffering being experienced in the Middle East.
According to the Gazan health ministry – run by Hamas, the UK-proscribed terror organisation that controls the Gaza Strip - over 9,500 Palestinians have so far been killed there during Israel’s response to the Hamas attack on its territory, on 7th October, in which more than 1,300 Israelis died and over 200 were kidnapped.
Naima Adam, from Stop The War Preston and South Ribble - one of the organisers of the vigil - said she hopes that the stark visualisation the soft toys helped to create did have an impact on those who saw it.
“I wish that we’d had more members of the public [stopping on their way past]. But that's why we gave the teddies out, because we know that it can sometimes be intimidating to come up to a crowd of people that all look the same and are usually Muslim.
“We also had a stand where people could come and ask questions. We didn't want to throw it in people's faces, but, equally, we wanted it to be something a little bit different - and to honour the people who have lost their lives,” Naima explained.
More than 120 children volunteered for the name-reading ceremony, which took more than two hours to complete. It was based on a list - then totalling just under 3,000 - of the names of children killed in Gaza, which was published last week by the Al Jazeera news network.
Only around 200 names were left unspoken at the vigil - also supported by The Forgotten People charity, Preston-based Children of the Ghetto and the Lancashire Association of Trades Union Councils - when it came to an end.
Some of the leftover teddies were given to the children who had taken part.