Kingston protest calls for ceasefire and humanitarian aid for Palestinians

Hundreds gathered in front of Kingston's city hall on Saturday afternoon in what was the largest protest for Palestinian solidarity that the city has seen to date.

The protest was one of many throughout Canada and the world as international pressure demanding a ceasefire continues to mount from Palestinians and allies in all parts of the globe.

Since Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7 killed more than 1,400 people, the response from Israel has been relentless and has been responsible for the deaths of over 10,000 Palestinians in the Gaza strip alone.

While Israel military forces maintain that they are attempting to avoid civilian casualties in their pursuit of eradicating Hamas, advocates for a ceasefire are skeptical and looking for leaders and politicians to condemn the actions of Israel.

In the past week, Israel bombed multiple refugee camps, saying that the targets were Hamas operatives but killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the process according to officials.

Yara Hussein of Queen's Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and an organizer of Saturday's rally said it's long overdue that Canadian and US governments condemn the actions of Israel and call for a ceasefire in the region.

Saturday was just the latest, and likely not the last, in the ongoing call for action from government officials.

"It was a joint effort for that call for ceasefire, that call for an end to Israeli occupation and for the liberation of Palestine," Hussein said.

"And an end to America and Canada's complicity in funding the Israeli occupation."

Khadija Farooq, also with SPHR, says that mainstream media coverage and responses from local politicians and leaders have been disappointing and one sided.

She highlighted statements by Queen's Principal Patrick Deane including the most recently released statement from October 30 that condemns Hamas' October 7 attack, but doesn't directly mention the violent response seen over the past several weeks by Israel.

"It begs the question of whose stories are being told," Farooq said.

"And it's the stories that are told that end up being the narratives that everyone ends up kind of being used to and that informs their decision making and how they see different groups of people."

While advocates don't feel that the support for the movement has been there from an administrative or political level, they do feel they've been supported from a grassroots, interfaith level.

And as the international call for a ceasefire continues, Hussein says she believes politicians like Prime Minister Trudeau are starting to feel the pressure to act.

"We are seeing that us demanding ceasefire and repeating these words and repeating this language and making it an urgency for our politicians and for our elected leaders is having an impact and having a change," Hussein said.

"We're going to continue that pressure for a ceasefire and for Canada to call out Israel for its international war crimes... regardless of how long it takes we've been screaming and chanting these things since 1948."

Rallies on Saturday saw thousands on the streets of large Canadian cities like Montreal and Toronto, and tens of thousands marched in the streets of Washington, D.C to demand action from the United States government.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News