Express & Star

Dudley vigil for Gaza sees community make their voices heard over conflict and council

A vigil for Gaza allowed a community to come together and make their voices heard about a humanitarian crisis.

The vigil outside Dudley Council House

More than 300 people came to Dudley Council House on Monday evening to wave Palestinian flags, light candles and display signs decrying violence in Gaza.

Candles provided a vivid imagery for the vigil

Despite the poor weather, there was a warm feeling amongst those attending the candlelit vigil outside the front of the council house as they came to peacefully, but vocally, protest against the ongoing conflict in Palestine and about Dudley Council.

Families and friends stood together to make their voices heard about the conflict

Those leading the protest, which was organised by the Dudley Palestine Solidarity Group, encouraged chants throughout the vigil.

Chants of "shame on you" were aimed both at Dudley Council and former Black Country MP Ian Austin, who has said publicly that Israel has "a duty" to "deal with the terrorists", while the council was also called upon to call for a ceasefire.

Lord Austin had said in an interview about Israel and Hamas: "In the face of all that, Israel doesn’t just have the right but a duty to defend its citizens, rescue the hostages and deal with the terrorists."

Dudley Palestine Solidarity Group spokesman Jerry Longford said the point of the vigil, which carried on for several hours in a peaceful manner, was to keep the conflict in everyone's minds.

Hundreds of people came together outside Dudley Council House for a candlelit vigil

He said: "We are here to keep the Palestine issue in the forefront of everyone's minds as after the ceasefire stopped, the bombing and killing has continued and we're getting some incredible figures coming out of Palestine that 15,000 people have died there.

The messages were clear from those attending the vigil

"There is a real significance to doing this vigil outside the council house as the people we elect to our local council are people who form the narrative in the way things are discussed and we want to impress on them that we're not really content with the way they've handled this.

"I think we can say that the issue is not going to run away and is not going to disappear and there will only be one solution to end this crisis, which is when Palestinians, Jews, Christians and all the other denominations can live side by side in Palestine under the same rules and same expectations."