Vigil for Palestinian lives lost draws crowd to downtown Ottawa

·2 min read
Organizers of the vigil, from Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and elsewhere, are calling on the federal government implement sanctions against Israel.  (Joseph Tunney/CBC  - image credit)
Organizers of the vigil, from Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and elsewhere, are calling on the federal government implement sanctions against Israel. (Joseph Tunney/CBC - image credit)

Organizers estimate 1,000 people attended a vigil hosted outside the Israeli embassy in downtown Ottawa Tuesday night in memory of Palestinian lives lost as violence in the region continues into a second week.

Ottawa police, who estimated the crowd at closer to 300, closed down part of O'Connor Street. Those behind the demonstration said they received death threats prior to the event.

"We want to show that we're there peacefully," said Jawad Abouzraiba, one of the event's organizers, by phone before the vigil.

"If there's anything that's going to happen, we trust our own city to take care of it to make sure that it's getting de-escalated."

Abouzraiba wouldn't say who sent the threats.

Vigil organizers want the federal government to take a stronger stance against the recent violence and implement sanctions against the Israeli government.

Death toll mounts as violence continues

On Tuesday, Israel bombarded Gaza with airstrikes while Palestinian militants resumed cross-border rocket fire.

The attacks came after a brief overnight lull. By some estimates, 72,000 people are now displaced in Gaza. As of Monday, more than 200 people have been killed, including dozens of children.

Israeli authorities said 12 people have been killed in Israel, including two children.

Adwa Bader said she wanted to show her support and solidarity for Palestinians.
Adwa Bader said she wanted to show her support and solidarity for Palestinians.(Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Abouzraiba said it was important to hold the ceremony, which included hoisting the Palestinian flag, singing and lighting candles, despite the threats.

"We're not here as a religious group or a specific race or background fighting for this cause," he said. "This is really a human issue."

Abouzraiba said the group has not yet filed a formal complaint with police regarding the threats. No violence occurred at the vigil.

Adwa Bader, 29, said she came out to peacefully show support for the Palestinian people and to denounce the violence.

"Stop killing the children — that's all we're asking of Israel," Bader said

On Saturday, thousands attended another demonstration in support of Palestinians in downtown Ottawa, and on Sunday, hundreds gathered outside Tom Brown Arena to show their support for Israel and to denounce Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip.