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‘We choose life,’ British minister tells London crowd mourning Israeli terror victims

“We stand together with Israel,” said another minister. “True friends do not celebrate a country in their moments of triumph but stand with them at their darkest hour.”

A candlelit vigil in London outside of 10 Downing Street in drew thousands in support of Israel, and out of concern for missing civilians and soldiers, Oct. 9, 2023. Source: Jewish Leadership Council.
A candlelit vigil in London outside of 10 Downing Street in drew thousands in support of Israel, and out of concern for missing civilians and soldiers, Oct. 9, 2023. Source: Jewish Leadership Council.

Some 4,000 people gathered for a candlelit vigil opposite 10 Downing Street—the official residence of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunkak—in central London on Monday evening to pay respects to the more than 900 Israelis killed, thousands wounded and as many as 163 civilians taken captive to the Gaza Strip by Hamas terrorists who launched a surprise attack on Israel on the morning of Oct. 7.

Many politicians and communal leaders addressed the crowd during the event, which was co-organized by the Jewish Leadership Council; the Board of Deputies of British Jews; and the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region.

“We chose life. We choose hope. We choose safety. We choose a future free from this evil,” Tom Tugendhat, the British minister of state for security, who is Jewish, told the crowd. “To my brothers and sisters in Israel, we say: ‘To life! L’chaim.’”

“We stand together with Israel,” said Robert Jenrick, the U.K. immigration minister. “True friends do not celebrate a country in their moments of triumph but stand with them at their darkest hour.”

Jenrick emphasized that “valorizing the deeds of Hamas on the streets of the UK is a serious criminal offense.” Since 2021, British law has specified that “members of Hamas or those who invite support for the group could be jailed for up to 14 years.”

David Lammy, the Labour Party shadow foreign secretary, told the crowd that his party, under opposition leader Keir Starmer, “stands with you.”

Ed Davey, leader of the centrist Liberal Democrat Party, said he supports the victims of terrorism and demanded the “immediate and unconditional” release of all Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader, was also on hand, as were UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Claudia Mendoza, co-chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council.

During the event, attendees spread out photographs of murdered and missing Israelis, and lit memorial candles around a statue of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. The key British commander helped quell the Arab revolt in 1938 in what was then British Mandatory Palestine.

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