SEVENTY-five people people held a vigil for the children of Gaza in the Otley market square on Friday, January 5.

They bought candles and children’s shoes, each pair of shoes representing approximately 100 children who have lost their lives.

A collection for Medical Aid for Palestinians was made and £362 was raised.

It was organised by local women, some of whom are grandmothers.

One of them said: "Every time we see an image of a dead or injured child in Gaza we think of how we would feel if it was one of our grandchildren. But we know that you don’t have to have had children to care deeply about the taking of innocent lives, and we cannot understand why our government is failing to call for a ceasefire - after all, what kind of person wouldn’t vote for a ceasefire in any conflict where children are being killed every day, every hour? We know that our own MP, Alex Sobel, did vote for a ceasefire and for this we thank him."

They went on to say: "We condemn absolutely the terrible loss of life caused by Hamas on the 7th October. The taking of civilian life, the taking of civilian hostages, is never ever acceptable. We understand the deep historical roots of this horrendous situation. But we cannot stand by and watch whilst so many thousands of innocent lives are taken every day and do nothing.

"At least 9,000 children have lost their lives in Gaza, in less than four months. That is more than three times the number of children who live in Otley. Many more will die of their injuries, there is hardly any medication to treat them and virtually no functioning health service. And now that winter is here they have no heating, no warm clothes, no sanitation and no food. Many of their tents are flooded.

"Otley is a town full of kind people. We opened our hearts, our purses, and, in many cases, our homes to the people escaping violence in Ukraine. The people of Gaza can’t escape, and they do not want to leave their homes in case they never get back, but we can open our hearts to them also, by showing that we are paying attention. We know that they are aware of the support of ordinary people across the world, and that it brings them hope in the darkest days of their lives."

Unless there is a permanent ceasefire before, there will be another half hour vigil on Friday, January 19 at 5pm in the market square in Otley.