Hundreds of Palestinians and allies held a demonstration on lawn of the B.C. Legislature Thursday to protest Canada’s military exports to Israel.
Fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas, and other militant groups, in the Gaza Strip on May 10. Airstrikes have been traded between the two regions, with Palestinians accounting for the vast majority of the dead and injured as they lack Israel’s sophisticated missile defense system.
At least 230 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza health officials, while 12 people in Israel have died since the fighting broke out. Among the dead were 65 Palestinian children and two Israeli children.
Organizers for Thursday’s event said anti-Semitic and hateful remarks and signs would not be tolerated. Masks were required and being handed out at the event. Speakers were reminding the crowd to stay with their household group and distance from others.
According to the federal government’s data, Canada sent $13.7 million worth of military goods and technology to Israel in 2019. Organizer Sartu Ali scolded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the exports, his “silence” and for “creating stronger relations with Israel.”
“Do you recognize that children are being killed with your own hard-earned money,” Ali said.
“We’ve all seen the tragic images, families, innocent kids affected. It needs to stop,” Trudeau said Tuesday while announcing Canada would call for a ceasefire.
“My people deserve to live, we don’t deserve death at our bedside until the violence and the reign of fire subsides” said an artist who goes by Shihottie while reciting a poem.
“The people of Palestine have had enough, the people around the world have had enough, the people gathered here have had enough,” an exuberant Shihottie said to the crowd. “Now is the time for change, now is the time for action, now is the time for our voices to be heard, now is the time to free Palestine.”
Ali called on Premier John Horgan to publicly denounce the “atrocities, and the destruction and the killing and the children and elderly.”
The organizer also supported federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s call for the Liberal government to halt arms sales to Israel, which he made earlier in May.
“By arming one side of the conflict it is undermining the peace process and it is supporting illegal occupation,” he said during question period on May 12.
Israel and Hamas announced a ceasefire on Thursday.
Hamas and other militant groups embedded in the Gaza Strip’s residential areas have fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted.
With files from the Associated Press
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