Leading figures from the Jewish community and outside it opened a ‘Lovelock hostage bridge’ calling for captives held by Hamas in Gaza to be freed.

Padlocks - like those attached by lovers to bridges and railings - were fixed to the footbridge entrance of the JW3 Jewish community centre in Finchley Road, Hampstead, on Sunday (February 11) to symbolise the link with those held captive.

Actor Dame Maureen Lipman, historian Simon Schama and writer Howard Jacobson were among those to attach locks.

“We are powerless to help the hostages directly,” Dame Maureen said. “But the locks on our bridge are powerful symbols of our empathy.

“Somehow, the hostages will know that their suffering is our suffering. We will not let the world forget or belittle their plight and move onto the next soundbite.”

The Lovelock bridge is an art instillation, with autographed padlocks being added each day until all the hostages are set free. 

It has been created to show solidarity for the plight of the remaining Jewish captives held in Gaza and to call on the international community to help bring them home.

Lovelock founder Marcel Knobil said: “I hope people throughout the world show solidarity for the hostages and help create growing support.”

The remaining hostages were among 240 innocent men, women and children kidnapped by Hamas from southern Israel when gunmen from Hamas, a proscribed terrorist group in the UK, killed 1,200 civilians on October 7 and kidnapped 250 people and dragged them into Gaza.

The oldest hostage taken was a woman of 85, the youngest a nine-month-old baby, with 136 still unaccounted for. 

Those who attached signed padlocks to the bridge included hostage relatives like Dr Sharone Lifschitz, whose father is still held captive, Orit Eyal-Fibeesh, who had 12 of her family kidnapped and Noam Sagi, whose mother was snatched.

Author Dov Forman attached a padlock on behalf of his 100-year-old grandmother Lily Ebert, who is a survivor from the Nazi Holocaust.

Padlocks were also attached signed by comedian David Walliams, television presenter Vanessa Feltz, journalist Alistair Campbell and singer-songwriter Mick Hucknell. Uri Geller provided a bent padlock.

JW3’s chief executive Raymond Simonson said: “The lack of international pressure to ensure the hostages are freed is a grave worry that highlights the need for global efforts to address humanitarian crises like this.

"The Lovelock Hostage Bridge is a symbol of compassion for the families that have been suffering and a reminder the hostages are not forgotten.”

The hostage bridge has attracted support from TV’s Anthea Turner, comedians Rachel Creeger and Danny Cohen, novelist and journalist Howard Jacobson, former BBC creative director Alan Yentob, TV historians Sir Simon Schama and Simon Sebag-Montefiore, actor-author Steven Berkoff, film producer Simon Chinn, authors Asher Gould and Noreena Hertz, Israeli writer Hen Mazzig, columnist Allison Pearson and Jewish News founder Justin Cohen.

Politicians include two east London MPs, former Tory Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, and Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge, the Barking MP.

Members of the public are being encouraged to bring their own padlocks to attach to the Lovelock Hostage Bridge or pick up one free at the JW3 reception.