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Christians gather at Downing Street to pray for Israeli hostages as hopes rise for their release

by Ros Mayfield

Thousands are expected to attend a prayer event, outside the gates to Downing Street on Sunday, to remember over 200 Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on 7th October.

A previous event, organised by Christians against Antisemitism, had to be called off, after police said they could not guarantee the group's safety.

Haley Gutman set up the group with her husband.  Both are pastors in the Assemblies of God church.  They visit churches, and speak with leaders and Christians, on a mission to educate them on the history of antisemitism, including Christianity’s role in it.

She tells Premier Sunday’s vigil is an opportunity for Jews and Christians to “stand together, united in friendship, unity, and love.”

“We want to send a message to the Jewish community that Christians stand with them, that they are not alone and that we are here and we are praying for them.”

“We're going to have Hebrew songs. We're going to have Hebrew prayers, we're going to have Christian prayers.  It's going to be a beautiful union of Jews and Gentiles standing in solidarity, praying for the victims who have been taken into Gaza and for the hostages for them to be returned.”

Events in support of the hostages have also been held in Washington DC, and in Europe.

In Israel, thousands of people have been marching from Tel Aviv to Benjamin Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem.  The Israeli Prime Minister has agreed to meet them on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Qatar said only "very minor" details remained on a deal between Israel and Hamas to secure the release of the approximately 238 hostages held in Gaza.

Qatar, has helped broker ceasefires between Israel and Hamas before, and has been acting as a key mediator between the two sides since the 7th of October attacks.

The news from Gaza is changing every minute, and while Haley says events there can affect events in England, she says the police have approved their plans, and she’s not concerned about any risk of reprisals at the gathering: “They're fully supportive. We have a very strong policing plan in place.  I’m not at all worried.  Nothing generally happens, so we think the risk is low.”

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