AN ANTI-WAR protester has started a hunger strike in York Minster – and vowed not to eat until a ceasefire is called in Gaza.

John Bibby has pledged to fast for as long as ten days to mark the deaths of more than 200 children in the conflict.

Mr Bibby, 64, of Heworth, said he only took the decision to stage his protest yesterday morning in an attempt to highlight the Gaza situation, which has seen almost two weeks of death and destruction involving Israel and militant Palestinian group Hamas.

But now he is determined to see it through until the killing stops and will be observing a minute’s silence for the Gaza children every hour during his stay in the North Transept, which is taking place with the permission of the Minster authorities.

“I felt uneasy about what was happening and had the notion of a hunger strike when I read that children cut off by Israeli forces were going hungry for as long as 12 days,” said Mr Bibby.

“I chose to do this at York Minster because of its iconic status in a society where we expect the church to take a high moral stand, and everybody there has been very receptive, positive and welcoming.

“Now I plan to be there every day for as long as it takes for an unconditional ceasefire to be agreed. I will fast for one hour for every child killed and I hope people will come along and share their views about the situation, join in prayer and make donations to a suitable charity for children in Gaza.

“Already, £1,000 has been raised in the space of a few hours, so hopefully people can find it in their hearts to help.”

Mr Bibby admits he has concerns about his health during his hunger strike – which will continue outside his Minster vigil – but said: “Any pain I experience cannot compare with the pain of a child’s death. I am just trying to protest in my own way. Other people may choose to do this differently.

“I don’t pretend I can change the world, but I might add a dimension to the way people think about what is happening.”

Anybody who wants to support Mr Bibby is particularly asked to join him at the Minster between 12.30pm and 1.30pm during his hunger strike.

Minster spokesman Martin Sheppard said: “Mr Bibby wants to make a public stand in the name of the victims of this conflict and felt the Minster was the natural place to make that stand.

“As the Minster has a long tradition of standing up for victims, we instantly agreed to his request.

“The Dean of York has sent his personal greetings and we are happy to welcome anybody who wants to join him”