By MP Holmes
Pro-Palestinian supporters gathered in the Waterloo Public Square on Tuesday, October 10 to express support for Palestine after Hamas’ surprise deadly assault in Israel last weekend. About 250 people turned up to the rally, which was hosted by the Palestinian Youth Movement.
Although Hamas has been in government in the Gaza Strip since 2006, they have been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union because of its armed resistance against Israel. Now, Israel has declared war on Hamas following last weekend’s planned attack which was the deadliest on the country in decades killing over 1000 and injuring close to 3000 across four locations. The Israeli response has been swift and hard. As of press time, it has been reported that the Israeli military has so far struck more than a thousand targets in Gaza, which is 365 km² in area. These retaliatory strikes have left 1100 people dead and over 5000 injured. Almost a quarter of a million people in Gaza have been displaced and the scale the humanitarian disaster is expected to get worse as Israel has cut off the flow of electricity, food, water, and fuel into Gaza.
In Waterloo Region, flags in the region are at half mast. For several nights this week, Zehr Square at Kitchener City Hall was lit blue and white in memory of the victims. The mayors and regional chair have all expressed shock at the attack, solidarity with Israel, and sympathy for all involved. The Beth Jacob Synagogue in Kitchener held a solidarity gathering on Tuesday evening, which was attended by Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.
The synagogues weren’t available to talk to CKMS news before press time but Temple Shalom in Waterloo did issue a statement that expressed concern for those trapped in the conflict and that Israel has a right to defend itself.
Back at the rally in Uptown, protestors flew Palestinian flags, while others carried signs that read “End the Nakba” and “free Palestine” For a brief time, there were hecklers yelling over the speakers but with a strong police presence of at least 24 Waterloo Region police officers, the heckling did not last long. Shatha Mahmoud with the Palestinian Youth Movement, one of the organizers of the rally, talked to CKMS about what is happening in Gaza, the decolonial nature of these attacks, and their reaction to Justin Trudeau’s condemnation of these pro-Palestinian rallies.
The Land Back Camp/Willow River Centre provided a strong show of support and allyship, providing volunteers for the rally and march. Amy Smoke of the Willow River Centre provided comment on the rally and their support.