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Vigil for Gaza peace

About 50 people formed a circle and held hands in a moment of silence, praying for an end to the bloodshed in Gaza at Churchill Square yesterday.

About 50 people formed a circle and held hands in a moment of silence, praying for an end to the bloodshed in Gaza at Churchill Square yesterday.

The group, many from the Arab Jewish Women’s Peace Coalition, stood in the square for two minutes as they held hands with each other.

Once the vigil ended, many were seen hugging each other while others sang songs for peace in the Middle East.

“There is right and wrong on both sides and we believe in a non-violent resolution and non-violent solutions to armed conflicts,” said coalition member Netta Phillet.

The moment of silence follows weeks of pro-Palestinian protests at Churchill Square and at city hall, including a large rally on Saturday that saw hundreds of protesters waving Palestinian flags.

Some were visibly angry towards Israeli forces for their attacks in Gaza.

The vigil also comes one day after Israeli leaders announced an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas announced a separate ceasefire yesterday and it said it would allow Israel a week to pull its troops out of the territory following a three-week war.

“This is just a veil, I think,” said Matias Mariani after the vigil yesterday. “It’s just a matter of time before things worsen again.”

Vanessa Ali, an organizer for the event, is also doubtful a ceasefire in Gaza will mean long-term peace in the Middle East.

“It has to go further than (just a ceasefire),” said Ali. “They have to get to talk and negotiate so there is justice for everybody on both sides of the borders.”

In Gaza, families began emerging from their places of hiding, including UN school compounds where some 45,000 people sought refuge during the fighting, and returning to their homes — some to find them damaged or destroyed. According to the Palestinian Statistics Bureau, some 4,000 residential buildings were reduced to rubble during the conflict. Western diplomats have said it could cost at least $1.6 billion to repair the infrastructure damage in Gaza.

 
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