Montrealers rally to protest military action in Gaza
A group of pro-Palestinian supporters gathered at Jarry Park in Montreal Saturday to protest Israel’s ground offensive of Gaza.
The Montreal march, which began at 2 p.m. at the corner St-Laurent and Gary-Carter, drew about 300 people. It was part of a pan-Canadian day of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
"Luckily with new technology, Palestinians are making their voices heard in a way that was much more difficult before," said demonstration co-organizer Doug Smith.
Israeli troops uncovered more than a dozen cross-border tunnels and battled Gaza militants on the second day of an open-ended ground operation Saturday, as the Palestinian death toll climbed past 330 and diplomats scrambled to revive cease-fire efforts.
"The children are not sleeping. People go to bed at night and wake up in the morning, and they don't know if they are going to see another night. The situation is really disturbing. One can't imagine how they live in this situation," said Ehab Lotayef of the Freedom Flotilla. Lotayef said the situation is worsened by worldwide inaction.
The demonstrators, which included Quebec Solidaire leader Francoise David, denounced Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s position on the conflict, saying they want the Canadian government to apply pressure on Israel to pull out of Gaza.
David said she feels the people of Gaza are prisoners.
"I don't support the rockets on the Israeli people. The question is who has the responsibility - the weakest or the biggest? I think it's the biggest," she said.
Organizers are also asking Quebecers to support a boycott and sanctions against Israel.
The protest was put on by several groups who oppose Israel's actions in the region. They say it's up to Israel not Hamas to deescalate the conflict by pulling out.
One organizer told CTV Montreal the people of Gaza feel abandoned by the world community and the group had gathered together to send a strong message that they are standing with them.
Meantime, struggle erupted as a debate broke out at the demonstration.
Pro-Israeli Teri Allister came for a reason. "I am here -- interrupted by protesters -- I am here because I have cousins who live beside the border and every day they are in bomb shelters. Because Israelis create bomb shelters for their children."
In Toronto, more demonstrators held signs with slogans like "Gaza needs more than our prayers," chanting "free, free Palestine," across the street from the Israeli Consulate.
A protest organizer says the rally aims to protest what she calls "Israel's ongoing aggression."
She adds that protesters reject the Canadian government's "unwavering support" for Israel.
The Israeli military has said it has severely diminished the arsenal of Hamas, the Islamic militant group ruling Gaza, but accuses militants of continuing to fire rockets.
With files from The Canadian Press