Canadians rally in Toronto, Montreal to protest military action in Gaza
Published Saturday, July 19, 2014 4:27PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 19, 2014 9:03PM EDT
Hundreds of people gathered at demonstrations across Canada Saturday to protest Israel's military action in Gaza, as the conflict in the Middle East continued to escalate.
In Toronto, demonstrators holding signs and chanting "free Gaza," gathered outside the Israeli Consulate. Organizer Hind Awwad said protesters were there to draw attention to what she called "Israel's ongoing aggression."
Saturday marked the second day of Israel’s ground operation in Gaza, as rockets continued fly from both sides. Israeli troops entered Gaza after a failed attempt to reach a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.
In Montreal, several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through streets.
Jaoudat Abouazza, who emigrated to Canada from the West Bank in 1977, attended the demonstration. He said he still has family in the region.
"It's very upsetting,” he said. “It's hard to accept what's been happening there."
The rally in Montreal briefly became tense when a woman showed up waving a small Israeli flag and told demonstrators that Israel "has the right to defend itself."
While one demonstrator tried to rip the flag away from her, another woman gave her hug, saying everyone is hoping for peace.
On Friday, a similar rally took place in Calgary, where a fight broke out when a group of Israel supporters showed up at the demonstration.
In Vancouver, protesters called on Israel to stop its military operations. Demonstrators also criticized Stephen Harper’s support for Israel.
“Our government has been pro-Zionist and we want to stand against that,” said rally organizer Dania Kallas.
A spokesperson for Harper said the prime minister spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday. They discussed the need to “make every effort to minimize civilian casualties.”
With files from The Canadian Press