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Vigil for ex-Gaza Scholar as wife and children are killed
A FORMER Oxford Brookes Gaza Scholar is in intensive care and six members of his family dead after their home was bombed by Israeli forces.
Hassan Al Hallaq is being treated for serious injuries following the attack on Saturday which killed his wife Samar, 29, who was eight months’ pregnant, and their sons Qinan, aged six, and Saji, four.
About 200 people attended a vigil last night at Carfax Tower to show support for Mr Al Hallaq and to pay tribute to his wife and children.
Mr Al Hallaq’s sister Hani Al Hallaq and her husband Hala Al Hallaq were also killed in the explosion at their home in Al-Rimal, in the centre of the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
Mr Al Hallaq studied for a Master’s degree in e-business at Oxford Brookes University as a Gaza Scholar from September 2012 to September last year after graduating with a degree in computer engineering from the Islamic University in Gaza.
Samar Al Hallaq
Mrs Al Hallaq and their children stayed with him last summer and she became involved with the Palestinian History Tapestry Project.
The project, which aims to support the traditional craft of Palestinian needlewomen, and record Palestine’s history through the sewing of a tapestry, was set up by retired nurse Lady Jan Chalmers, who lives in Jericho, Oxford.
She and her husband Sir Ian Chalmers, a health service researcher, have been involved with Palestine since 1963 and became friendly with Mr and Mrs Al Hallaq during their time in Oxford. She said: “They were a lovely family – it’s devastating.
“She (Mrs Al Hallaq) was such a beautiful young woman at the age of 29 in the bloom of pregnancy.
“Hassan was on the crest of a wave before all this happened.
“He had finished his Master’s degree here last year and he was planning for a PhD.
“He is such a smiley person, always looking smart, always friendly and she was the same.
“Samar and the boys were here during Ramadan last year That was when I suggested she made a panel for the tapestry.”
The couple's children, Qinna, six, left, and four-year-old Saji, died in the attack
Mr Al Hallaq phoned Sir Ian and Lady Chalmers when they were speaking to the Oxford Mail and told them he was receiving hospital treatment for his serious injuries.
This year’s Gaza Scholar, Jehan Alfarra, 23, also paid tribute to Mr Al Hallaq, whom she knew through their studies, and his family.
She said: “I have spoken to people who know Hassan and they are very shocked and very upset by what has happened.”
Lady Jan Chalmers with Samar's tapestry
Vice-Chancellor at Oxford Brookes University, Professor Janet Beer, said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic news.
“Hassan came to Oxford with his family and became fully embedded into the life of the city and the university.”
THE Gaza Strip is a
- 139 sq mile section of Palestinian territory on the Mediterranean coast of Israel which has a short border with Egypt to the South West
- Israel occupied Gaza between 1967 and 2005 and controls most of its borders, waters and airspace
- In June Israeli-Palestinian relations deteriorated after Israel blamed the Palestinian movement Hamas for the death of three Israeli teenagers. Rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza increased and tensions rose further after a Palestinian teenager was killed in Jerusalem on July 2
- After more than two weeks of airstrikes, Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza on July 17
- More than 500 Palestinians and 20 Israelis are estimated to have died so far
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