Friday, December 19, 2014

Vigil for all the Palestinians killed this year. 
Thursday 18th December.
Thanks to all of you who came out to support our vigil for all the Palestinians killed this year, and also those who came to sing our alternative carols for Palestine.
At the 2 events we raised £96 (and 7 Rand) for Medical Aid for Palestinians, which when added to the collection at the Women in Black vigil means that we will have over £170 to send from Oxford.
We hope there may be something in the Oxford Mail tomorrow about the vigil so do look out for that.
The vigil was made really special by having a contribution from Hassan Alhallaq which was read by Shaima Whaidi (this year's Gaza scholar at Brookes).  So you can all share his words, they are written in full below.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first thank you for giving me the chance to be with you today in this vigil with my words. I am writing to you from Gaza, the land of continuous suffering and the land of dignity and struggle. Today’s date reminds me when I spent the Christmas holiday with my little family back in 2012 in Gaza. That time, I was a master’s student at Oxford Brookes University. It was not among my plans to leave Oxford and spend the holiday season in Gaza because of the recurrent closure of Rafah crossing, the only available crossing for the people of Gaza to travel through Egypt. However, because of the eight-day war that took place in November of that year I had to go back and take the risk to spend some time beside my traumatized children Kenan and Sajy and my wife Samar . The children were very excited to see me again after witnessing the first war without their dad beside them. In summer 2013, I was lucky to bring my family to Oxford to spend the summer vacation with me, it was the best vacation we’ve ever had. They enjoyed the life in UK, they were given the chance to see how the whole world is living the normal life with all the meaning of the word. It never came to my mind, even in my worst nightmares, that this would then be the last vacation for me with them. Today, I am recalling these days alone, only the memories are left. On the 20th of July, during the last fifty-day war, I lost my family after the Israeli occupation forces struck the apartment we were taking as a shelter with three air missiles. Seven members of my family were killed, including my mother, my sister, my children Kenan and Sajy and my heavily pregnant wife Samar. Their dreams for a better life were also killed with them. Their only guilt is that they live in Gaza, the place they belong to, with all the hope that they will at some time enjoy the natural human rights guaranteed by the international laws. However, the whole world was standing still and witnessing the massacres committed on a daily basis against the innocent civilians of Gaza. The Israeli occupation forces practiced an organized state terror against the people of Gaza by committing hundreds of war crimes against humanity and neglecting any obligations to the international law. My story is just a sample of tens of tragic stories of families that were totally erased from the civil registry. Hundreds of other families are left homeless after the destruction of their houses and in some cases their whole neighborhoods. Thousands are left with permanent disabilities that changed the way they live. My message to you in this vigil is to keep these activities to support the cause of the Palestinian people and their right to establish their own state and spread the word to uncover the terrorist policies practiced by the occupation state against the innocent civilians seeking peaceful living on their own land.
Thank you for listening.
Hassan Alhallaq
Gaza, 15/12/2014