ONGOING fighting between Gaza and Israel has prompted two major public events in Brighton today.
Thousands are expected to attend Sussex Friends of Israel’s (SFI) National Rally for Israel and Peace, from 1.30pm in Victoria Gardens, Brighton.
Meanwhile, the first Brighton for Peace event will host a Walk for Peace along the Brighton seafront at the same time, raising money for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza Crisis Appeal.
Its volunteer organisers describe the latter event as a “spontaneous outpouring of action” prompted by the “Gaza and Israel crisis”.
Emotions have been running high around the world over the recent outburst of fighting between Israel and Gaza amid the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict.
On Friday evening a ceasefire was ongoing to stop fighting that has killed 1,962 Palestinians and 67 Israelis since July 8.
Marches supporting Gaza have been held in Brighton, while ‘Free Gaza’ was recently graffitied on to the door of the Hove Hebrew Congregation synagogue.
Retired Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, will be speaking at SFI’s rally.
He will be joined on the stage by Oded Revivi, mayor of Israeli settlement Efrat, and Rebecca Bat Raphael, whose son was kidnapped and killed by Hamas fighters in 1994.
Sussex Friends of Israel trustee Winston Pickett said: “For some time now grassroots activists for Israel have been asking SFI to take on the baton and hold a national rally in solidarity with Israel and for peace.
“We are happy to oblige. We all hope for an extension of the current ceasefire and a long and binding agreement for peace.”
Brighton for Peace’s Walk for Peace, meanwhile, will start from 1.30pm at the Angel of Peace statue in Hove and silently march to the Concorde 2, accompanied by musicians and other performers.
Lead volunteer Adam Gill said: “This is not a political event, just an outpouring of empathy. Our intention is to send out a message of love and hope to people affected by conflict.
“It doesn’t matter where you are from, we are all human and this must stop.”
A police spokesman said: “We are anticipating that both will be peaceful but officers will be on duty to maintain safety.”