London 'empty buggies' installation to commemorate dead and missing children in Israel

A trio of mothers will produce the display in the capital this weekend to symbolise the 'unnatural loss' suffered by desperate and grieving families


Three mothers are to use empty buggies to produce a striking reminder in central London of the children kidnapped in Israel and taken to Gaza, and those who were murdered by Hamas terrorists.

In an act of solidarity with grieving Israeli families, the mothers, Alicia, Keren and Atalia, have invited parents “who share this pain” to lend their buggies for two hours to use in the “safe and peaceful” flash installation piece to be displayed at midday on Sunday in central London.

The trio, who did not want to have their surnames published, are either Israeli or have friends and family in Israel.

In an echo of a moving installation put together in Ukraine following the Russian invasion, the mothers will assemble a row of 26 empty buggies to represent each of the children captured and held hostage, with cards including their names and ages placed on each pushchair. Among the missing is a baby aged just six months, Ariel, who was snatched along with her three-year-old brother, Kfir.

Dozens of empty prams were arranged in the central square in the Ukrainian city of Lviv in March 2022 to commemorate the children killed in the wake of Russia's invasion.

In total, 109 buggies were displayed, one for each child killed since the start of the war at that time, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The London mothers will also pay tribute to the children in Israel who have lost their lives with “a work in progress” that could involve a “tumble of buggies” lying on their side, or a collection of stones.

While the installation represents the loss of innocent lives and children who were taken so brutally, it is also intended to reflect “the hope that the children held hostage by Hamas will be released back to their families”.

The mothers hope that the work will keep the plight of the Israeli child hostages, in the public eye, reminding international governments to keep putting pressure on Hamas to release those snatched.

The message the parents want to get across is simple: "Bring the children home - holding children hostage is a crime against humanity," says Alicia, who came up with the idea shortly after the Hamas massacre on October 7 which has claimed 1,600 lives.

“It came from a place of wanting to show a sign of solidarity with grieving Israeli families and those waiting for news of their children in Gaza in a visually striking way, but not something that was overtly political or message-driven,” said the mother-of-two from north London.

“It’s just a way to say as Israeli and British Jewish parents, ‘We mourn with you and we feel for you’.

"It's such an isolating experience being Israeli. With that feeling of distance and helplessness, I wanted to indicate to my family and my friends that even though they're living through the terror, our hearts are as broken as theirs.

”The empty buggy, she said, symbolises that “unnatural loss, that somewhere where a child should be is now sitting empty, either to never be filled, or hopefully to be filled once more”.

There will be a police presence at the display and the group has notified the CST, but it is not planning a gathering, and will dismantle the temporary installation soon after photographs have been taken.

The organisers said that the concept offers an easy way for people to show their solidarity, especially for those who find it difficult to engage with the onslaught of upsetting social media posts: "It’s a relatable statement - [a buggy] is a universal symbol of parenthood and childhood, and for all these families in Israel, they are unnaturally empty,” Alicia said.

“It could be a really simple way for people all around the world to express their grief and their horror by taking photos of their own empty buggies and using that to stand in solidarity with the families that have experienced loss. It will hopefully hit home with parents around the world.”

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