Around 300 Calgarians who support the rights of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank came out on Sunday demanding Canada take a stronger stand against the Israeli government’s actions.
“Canada’s response has been shameful. Trudeau’s response has been shameful,” said Wesam Khaled, rally organizer with Justice for Palestinians.
Israeli forces are getting ready for a campaign aimed at dismantling Hamas which was behind the attack more than a week ago in Israel. Israel has been warning more than one million Palestinians to move south since Friday.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) international spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said many haven’t been able to get out and he’s worried about the innocent civilians.
“We are trying to evacuate Gaza civilians and Hamas is trying to prevent that. Hopefully, the civilians in Gaza will understand what’s best for them and they will move south of the Gaza River,” said Conricus on Sunday.
The World Health Organization has called for Israel to immediately reverse evacuation orders to hospitals in northern Gaza, which it says are a death sentence for the sick and injured.
UNICEF is calling for an immediate ceasefire as more than one million people —nearly half of them children— have been warned to move out.
“I’m here for the children,” said Charlotte YellowHorn McLeod who spoke at the Calgary rally.
“We have to do better as citizens and Canada is supposed to be supporting human rights around the world and they’re not. These people are suffering. The children are suffering. They don’t have drinking water.”
Some people with relatives in Gaza said many people there don’t want to leave their homes, fearing a repeat of the “Nakba” when many Palestinians fled from their homes during the 1948 war.
Mirian Meir worked with Palestinians in Israel and is a member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, which is also calling for a cease-fire and a humane corridor for medical and humanitarian relief and goods to get into Gaza.
She’s critical of Canada’s response so far.
“I really think they are not aware of how desperate the Palestinian situation is. Being critical of Israel and its policies is not antisemitic. It is human rights activism,” Meir said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided the following statement on Saturday:
“Canada is deeply concerned by the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. We are working closely with allies and partners in the region to do everything we can to support affected Canadian citizens, including assistance departing from Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel as quickly and safely as possible.
“The rapid and unimpeded access of relief via a humanitarian corridor is essential to address the urgent needs of civilians in Gaza. International law, including humanitarian and human rights law, must be respected and civilians, journalists, humanitarian workers, and medical personnel must be protected. The loss of civilian life is deeply disturbing, and our heartfelt condolences are with all those whose families and communities have been affected. Canadians and people around the world must be steadfast in our support for the protection of civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian.”
On Saturday, the federal NDP passed an emergency resolution that addressed the Israel-Hamas war, saying New Democrats stand with “all people in Israel and Palestine who yearn for peace, freedom and security.”
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