Thousands of protesters rally in Toronto outside Israeli Consulate
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, January 10, 2009 4:45PM EST
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Toronto to speak out against Israeli attacks in Gaza.
Police estimated that about 2,000 protesters were packed outside the Israeli Consulate in Toronto calling for an end to Israeli attacks in Gaza.
Many of the protesters were children, who carried graphic signs depicting some of the youngest victims of the violence in Gaza. One little girl held a baby doll wrapped in a white sheet, stained with fake blood.
She was the daughter of Isser Baker, whose entire family was with him at the protest. He said he has told his children what is going on.
"They understand exactly what is happening (in Gaza). Children are without food, without medicine, without school."
Amir Ghorvei may only be 10-years-old but it wasn't his first protest. The boy from Mississauga, Ont., attended with his mother, but he knew exactly why he had come.
"I think that the war on Gaza should stop," he said.
"Palestinians are getting killed every day and Harper doesn't want to do a thing about it."
Much of the protesters' criticism was launched toward the federal government as they spoke out against what they considered to be unabashed support of Israel.
"John Baird was quoted as saying the resisters in Palestine are cowards," said Ali Mallah of the Canadian Arab Federation.
"Well I have news for you John Baird and Stephen Harper, the only coward we know is Stephen Harper and his government."
Mallah's comments were met with cheers and chants of "shame on you."
The Toronto crowd was predominantly made up of Palestinian protesters, although a small contingent of Jewish supporters were also in the crowd, separated by a police barricade.
Although the protest was peaceful the mood was still tense and an Israeli flag was burned by some protesters.
Also in the crowd was Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario wing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who was forced to apologize for comparing bombings by the Israeli army to actions taken by the Nazis during the Second World War.
On Saturday he urged the Palestinians in the crowd to get involved politically so they can affect change in the government.
"You've got to get political. You've got to elect some politicians," Ryan said.
Other demonstrations were also scheduled for across the country, including events in Ottawa, Calgary, Fredericton, Halifax, Vancouver and Victoria.
Similar protests drew sizable crowds last weekend, including thousands in Montreal.