In a ceremony in London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday 11 November, parents from Extinction Rebellion (XR) placed hundreds of empty childrens’ shoes at the world-famous landmark to represent all the young Israeli and Palestinian lives lost in the ongoing fighting:
XR: calling for a ceasefire and remembering the children
At 10am, a series of activists from XR Families read out the names of all 4,100 Palestinian children killed by Israeli attacks on Gaza and of the 26 Israeli children killed by Hamas attacks on Israel. Other parents placed sheets of paper listing the names of the dead next to the rows of empty shoes:
A moment of silence was held at 11am in their memory, and to mourn all innocent children killed in armed conflicts:
Julie, a mother from XR Families said:
We are calling for an immediate ceasefire. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: ‘Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children.’ As parents with children of our own, we say that the violence must stop now. The empty shoes are a symbol of the absence of the thousands of children who have been the innocent victims of this war, representing all the young lives that have been cut short, unfulfilled.
Jilly, a grandmother who took part in the action, said:
I look at my healthy, happy children and grandchildren and feel such anguish for the families whose children have been killed in Gaza and Israel.
Alexia, mother of two added:
Looking at those empty shoes and reading the names of the thousands of children that have been killed in Gaza, makes my heart bleed – it could be my children. Our politicians are once again showing their lack of humanity.
It is unbelievable that neither Conservative nor Labour leaders have asked for a ceasefire when the level of killing has been so indiscriminate – It is deeply hypocritical to commemorate Remembrance Day whilst we are allowing a genocide to happen In Gaza.
Climate chaos fuelling conflict
XR Families has previously highlighted the link between climate breakdown and wars, in a vicious circle of destruction that harms people and the planet.
Countries at war are less able to cope with the effects of climate change because their ability to adapt is undermined by internal divisions or ongoing violence. Climate change can also inflame existing tensions over access to diminishing necessities.
According to the INFORM Risk index published by the European Commission, the Palestinian Territories are among the 25 regions most vulnerable to climate change. In January 2022, intense floods in Gaza damaged hundreds of buildings and put entire drainage systems out of commission, forcing people out of their homes.
If an extreme weather event hit the area now, when access to basic needs is impossibly restricted, its local population would not have the means to cope.
The long-lasting occupation and blockade mean people in Gaza have more limited means than in other environments, and are being denied the right to manage their land and resources, making them more vulnerable to climate-related events.
Britain: complicit in Israel’s occupation of Gaza and Palestine
In a statement on the Palestine/ Israel war, Extinction Rebellion UK said:
The future we are fighting for is one free from violent systems of oppression that deem certain lives as expendable or less worthy of protection.
If we believe in climate and ecological justice, we must seek justice in all forms. The climate and ecological emergency has roots in centuries of colonial violence, exploitation and oppression – for which the UK bears a disproportionate share of responsibility.
Britain has historically been instrumental in the ruthless suppression of Palestinian human rights and continues to offer unwavering support for the military onslaught we’re seeing now.
Featured image and additional images via Extinction Rebellion UK
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