MOURNERS gathered for a vigil to remember the family of former Oxford Brookes Gaza Scholar Hassan Al Hallaq.
As reported in yesterday’s Oxford Mail, Mr Al Hallaq is in intensive care in hospital in Gaza after a suspected Israeli bombing which killed his pregnant wife Samar, 29, their unborn child and their sons Qinan, six and Saji, four.
His sister 27-year-old sister Hala and her husband Hani, 29, were also killed in the explosion in their house in Al Rimal in the centre of Gaza.
About 200 people gathered at Carfax Tower at 5pm on Tuesday.
Carrying banners reading ‘Stop the massacres, Israel out of Gaza,’ and ‘End the Israeli occupation’ the crowd listened to speakers who paid tribute to Mr Al Hallaq.
His successor as Oxford Brookes Gaza Scholar, Jehan Alfarra, 23, said: “We were both working to help alleviate the suffering of people in Gaza. He is very enthusiastic and will do anything he can to help the Palestinian people.
“I have been in Gaza during previous ground invasions. I know what it is like to smell death and to feel like this is it. But it is a million times worse to be away from family and friends and to know what is happening to them. That feeling is even worse than being under the bombs.”
Miss Alfarra was applauded by the crowd after her speech which she also used to call for the “siege” of Gaza to be lifted.
Mr Al Hallaq studied for a Master’s degree in e-business at Brookes between September 2012 and September 2013, following a degree in computer engineering from the Islamic University in Gaza.
Mrs Al Hallaq, Qinan and Saji, stayed with their father in Oxford during the summer of 2013.
Sir Ian Chalmers, who befriended Mr Al Hallaq and his family during their time in Oxford between September 2012 and September 2013, said: “The deaths were an absolutely devastating piece of news.
“Hassan is making good progress in hospital and I want us to wish him a continued good recovery even if he will never recover from the death of his family.”
Rima Majed, a Lebanese student at Oxford University who was attending the protest, said: “This is the least we can do to commemorate our colleague Hassan. We are here today like we were in London last week because of the bloodshed in Gaza over the last few weeks. It is unjustifiable and horrendous.”
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