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Protesters call on Trudeau to condemn Israel's expected ground offensive

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Another Pro-Palestine demonstration was held in Montreal Saturday, this time with a message for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as hundreds marched to his riding office.

With chants of "Gaza, Gaza" filling the air, demonstrators voiced their support for those living in the region, which has come under heavy bombardment from Israel in recent days.

"We should continue our message of peace and trying to bring both sides to their mind, and try to put a halt on what's taking place right now in the Middle East," said Salem Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal.

The group marched along Christophe-Colomb Avenue to Trudeau's riding office in Villeray, calling on the prime minister to denounce Israel's expected ground offensive in Gaza.

Israel is poised to launch a widespread counteroffensive attack in northern Gaza; on Friday, the Israeli military ordered the 1.1 million people living there to evacuate, while Hamas urged residents to stay put.

Since the start of the Israel-Gaza war last week, spurred by the deadly Hamas attacks last Saturday, Trudeau has condemned Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the Canadian government, and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself.

He has dodged questions from reporters over whether he agrees with a warning from the United Nations that Israel is violating international humanitarian law.

Demonstrators call for the liberation of Palestine at a protest in Montreal on Oct. 14, 2023. (Matt Grillo/CTV News)

Protesters in Montreal Saturday said Trudeau should do more to voice his support for Gazans. 

"The prime minister is the prime minister of [...] Muslims, Jews, Christians, everyone," said Elemenyawi, who wants to see Canada play peacemaker in this war.

"Canada has a very serious responsibility among the nations of the world in general. For its name, for its peace. Taking sides will not help anyone," he said.

Trudeau has stated in recent days that Hamas "does not represent the Palestinian people," nor Arabs or Muslims.

"Israeli and Palestinian civilians deserve to live in peace and security, in dignity, and with their human rights respected," he said Thursday.

"We continue to look for ways to support civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, and ensure that as many civilians as possible are kept safe during this terrible conflict." 

Saturday's event came on the heels of a major pro-Palestine protest in Montreal Friday, when thousands gathered at Guy-Concordia metro station to demonstrate.

Many Jewish businesses, institutions, and places of worship across the city were on heightened alert at the time because a former Hamas leader reportedly called for a global day of protest on Friday against Israel.

Organizers told CTV News that Montreal's Friday event was planned before that call and stressed they are pushing for peace.

A pro-Israel rally is scheduled to take place in downtown Montreal Sunday. Religious leaders are expected to attend in support of the Jewish community.

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