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Sunday, April 14, 2024

68-year-old’s daily Gaza protest inspires support and abuse

A partially mobile Ealing woman showing her support for Palestine in her own way. Homa, an Ealing resident for nearly 40 years, told Local Democracy Reporting Services that every day for the last month she has come down to the council building to raise the Palestinian flag.

The 68-year-old says she intends to repeat her solitary daily vigil every day until a ceasefire is announced. She said: “One day I had had enough, I had to do something. I thought that [the council] was the best location. It is very local to me. That was a factor considering the fact that I am only partially mobile. The town council, the town hall is the place to be.”

Homa protest in support of Palestine outside Ealing council in London. Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

The scenes from the conflict that have been plastered across social media and lit up the nation’s TV screens have inspired a number of reactions. While London has seen weekly marches of thousands of people looking for an end to fighting in Gaza, these protests -which can last for hours at a time- are not always easy to join for those who are less physically capable.

Homa explains that there isn’t anything specific that spurred her one-woman protest just the constant stream of horrific stories of the suffering of Palestinians over the past 5 months.

“There wasn’t one thing, this has been going on for a long time now, we are entering the 5th month and I thought to myself what I am doing is not enough I need to do more and this is my little bit of participation and support.”

“I just want it to stop. The brutality and the killing and the children, I can’t believe this is happening in our era, it is just shameful. That we are allowing this to happen to so many civilians, to the extent that even babies are dying.”

She described what is happening to the Palestinians as an “injustice”. It is thought that over 30,000 people in Gaza have been killed since Israel began airstrikes on the territory after 7 October, when 1,200 Israelis were killed by Hamas gunmen.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the vast majority of casualties of Israeli attacks have been women and children. Homa says her main aim is to bring attention to the situation and hopes, in a small way, her protest can help bring about peace. She said: “Even if people don’t like it, I’m happy that they notice, I want people to know what is happening even if they are just questioning it for the first time.

“I don’t think people in power will solve the problem. I’m too old, I know politics doesn’t work.”

“A lot of people were not aware of the situation in Palestine. I just hope, that the people wake up and bring peace.”

As she sits, waving her flag,  cars rushing past beep horns in support, people walking along the street stop to talk with her and she even receives gentle pats on the back from strangers. In response, Homa raises her fist or fingers in a V shape symbolising victory.

Although locals are overwhelmingly positive about her actions, the 68-year-old says some ‘f words’ have been thrown her way and not everyone is happy about her activism. “I get a lot of support, a lot of beeps. I come here every day I get a very good response,” she says, shrugging off the backlash by adding: “Compared to the support it’s not mentionable.”

The support seems to have galvanised the OAP who says she will keep going until a ceasefire is signed: “I don’t know when it depends on what is happening there [in Gaza].” Perhaps for her sake and the sake of the people of Gaza, that time will come sooner rather than later.

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