New Reports for Sundays protests at the bottom of page.
January 4 2009
By Kenyon Wallace
As Israeli troops entered the Gaza strip, thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators stopped traffic along Yonge St. between Dundas and Bloor Sts. for a march condemning the Israeli action this afternoon.
Police on horseback and bicycles worked to control the crowd as it marched northwards, but as of 3 p.m., the protest has been peaceful.
“No one is as angry as I am. I have lost my entire family to the Israeli apartheid,” Rafeef Ziadah, spokesperson for Palestine House, told the crowd. “Stop the attack on Gaza.”
Chanting “free, free Palestine” and “from Iraq to Palestine, occupation is a crime”, protestors marched from Dundas Square to the Israeli consulate at Yonge and Bloor Sts.
About 200 counter-protestors were also in attendance to show their support for Israel’s incursions into the Gaza strip.
“We support the Israeli government’s efforts to stop Hamas, stop terrorism and stop terrorist infrastructure,” said Meir Weinstein, national director of the Jewish Defence League in Canada.
“Only this will bring stability to the region.”
Protestors Denounce Israeli Offensive
With no end in sight to the back-and-forth attacks between Israel and the Hamas in the Gaza Strip, voices are being raised around the world against the attacks that have already claimed hundreds of lives.
On Saturday, around a thousand demonstrators gathered in Ottawa, demanding an immediate ceasefire. They say Israel has launched an unprecedented wave of attacks. By raising their voices now, they hope to save the lives of countless Palestinian women, children and men caught in the bloody crossfire.
The protestors carried stretchers to the Israeli embassy on O’Connor Street and laid the symbolic causalities at Israel’s doorstep. Carrying Palestinian flags, they called on the Canadian government to denounce the attacks and press for an immediate ceasefire.
The demonstration came just as military officials in Jerusalem confirmed that Israeli ground forces, amassed for days on the Gaza border, had started moving into the region. The ground incursion had been widely expected after a heavy barrage of artillery strikes from Israeli gunboats and warships.
The United Nations says at least 433 Palestinians have been killed since the Israeli offensive started eight days ago. More than 2,000 have been injured and the U.N. says at least a quarter of them are civilians. Four Israelis have been killed by Hamas rocket attacks.
Protesters in several Canadian cities waved placards and Palestinian flags Saturday as they angrily denounced the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza, just as word emerged that Israel’s troops and tanks had moved into enemy territory.
Following on the heels of angry protests taking place in cities across Europe, the Canadian show of solidarity began in the nation’s capital with more than 500 demonstrators braving chill winds on the steps of Parliament Hill.
The group made its way to the Israeli and U.S. embassies in Ottawa, as did a gathering of several thousand people in Toronto who at one point faced off against a smaller group of pro-Israel demonstrators in a downtown public square.
The noisy but peaceful gathering on Parliament Hill erupted with cries of “shame” when a speaker delivered the news Israel had begun its ground assault.
“Regardless what they say in this building (House of Commons), regardless what they say in Washington or the Hague, these are war crimes,” shouted Robert Assaly, an Anglican priest from Montreal who was a speaker at the rally.
At the height of the protest, military officials in Jerusalem confirmed that Israeli ground forces, amassed for days on the Gaza border, had started moving into the region.
The ground incursion had been widely expected in the wake of a heavy barrage of artillery strikes from Israeli gunboats and warships that was hammering the region Saturday.
Organizers at the invective-charged Toronto rally opted not to announce the news for fear it would stoke additional anger.
“This will have huge implications,” said Ali Mallah of the Canadian-Arab Federation.
“It will widen the wedge toward more war, more violence and more people to be killed. It’s a shame that we just entered a new year … to start with war and killing in the Middle East.”
In addition to the Ottawa and Toronto protests, events were scheduled for Montreal and Vancouver.
Braving -19 C wind-chill temperatures, the Ottawa rally denounced what they called Israeli atrocities against the 1.5 million residents of Gaza.
It included many self-identified Palestinian-Canadians, as well as a smattering of Jewish-Canadians opposed to Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank, union activists and civil rights advocates.
Israel has said it is acting in self-defence in response to continuous firing of rockets from Gaza into Jewish towns.
But the demonstrators dismissed that defence, calling the rockets a minor provocation that don’t excuse the killing of over 400 Palestinians.
Toronto police – including several on horseback – formed a barrier between the impassioned masses of Palestine supporters and the scores waving Israeli flags as the protest forced the closure of a typically busy portion of Yonge Street.
“(The violence) devastated me and my family,” said Suraya Aburaneh, 21. “We can’t do much, but we’re here in Canada and the best we can do is spread awareness.”
Interrupting her was her nine-year-old cousin Dina, who shouted: “We can’t let people die like this!”
“We just need peace in this world, no killing. Both sides,” said Sumbul Raza, 34, as she marched and led chants of, “Shame, shame Israel.”
Across police lines, a group organized by the Jewish Defense League held a counter-demonstration.
“I want them to have their own country, I want them to have democracy,” said Ravid Dahan, 28, who moved to Canada from Israel two years ago.
“I want my children to go to school with their children. But they don’t believe I exist.”
Jill Aharon, 51, from Thornhill, added peace could come easily: “If they lay down their rockets, there will be no more death,” she said.
Tens of thousands of people also demonstrated across Europe on Saturday, including protesters who hurled shoes at the tall iron gates outside the British prime minister’s residence in London.
Protests in Paris, Rome, Berlin and many other European cities also drew thousands.
Israel says it is responding to rockets fired from Gaza by the Hamas militant group. Four Israelis also have been killed in the week of violence.
The Israeli air strikes have badly damaged Gaza’s infrastructure, knocking out power and water in many areas and raising fears of humanitarian disaster.
Flames rise from the rubble of senior Hamas militant Nizar Rayan’s house after an Israeli airstrike hit a nearby mosque in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. (AP / Hatem Moussa)
Israeli army armoured vehicles are seen at a staging area outside the Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. (AP / Sebastian Scheiner)
Smoke trails from rockets fired by Palestinian militants from the northern Gaza Strip towards an Israeli target are seen Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. (AP / Bernat Armangue)
Palestinian Hamas supporters chant slogans during a protest against Israel’s military operation in Gaza, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. (AP / Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Israel continues assault, despite worldwide protests
January 2 2009
A series of worldwide protests and continued calls from international leaders for a ceasefire were not enough to stop the ongoing conflict in Gaza, as Israel continued its week-long assault on Hamas targets throughout Friday.
One of the buildings destroyed in the latest airstrikes was a mosque that Israel claimed was being used to store weapons.
Some 20 houses were also targeted in Gaza on Friday, though Israel says it phoned ahead to warn those inside. The homes of more than a dozen Hamas leaders were reportedly destroyed in the raids.
Israeli planes also dropped leaflets for people to call in the locations of rocket squads, though it appeared that few people took up the initiative.
Nizar Kaddah, a Palestinian-Canadian who moved with his family to Gaza for a job, told CTV Newsnet that the bombings have made life “very difficult and miserable” for the people on the ground.
“I can hear from my home bombs everywhere, you know, especially at night,” he said in a phone interview from his Gaza City home.
“They usually start bombing after, like, midnight until the early hours in the morning. It is very difficult and miserable in here.”
Kaddah also said it has been hard for his family to get access to food and basic supplies.
The United Nations said that a humanitarian crisis is developing as the conflict continues.
UN humanitarian coordinator Maxwell Gaylard said 2,000 people have been wounded so far and that there is “a critical emergency right now in the Gaza Strip.”
Israel has said it is doing what it can to limit civilian casualties and that it has increased shipments of supplies to Gaza.
On Friday, Israel also allowed about 300 Palestinians with foreign passports to leave Gaza.
One Hamas leader said the Israeli-led attacks would not go unpunished.
“The Palestinian resistance will not forget and will not forgive,” said Hamas legislator Mushir Masri. “The resistance’s response will be very painful.”
Thirty rockets, many heavier than those used in previous days, were launched from inside Gaza at Israeli targets on Friday.
Hamas also said it would retaliate against the death of Nizar Rayan — a senior Hamas leader who was killed by a one-ton bomb that also killed 18 others, including 13 members of Rayan’s family on Thursday.
There were also indications Friday that Israel could soon expand its military operation with a ground incursion into Gaza.
An estimated 400 people have been killed in Gaza during the week-long conflict. Three Israeli civilians and one soldier have also been reported dead.
Tens of thousands stage worldwide demonstrations
Tens of thousands of people held anti-conflict protests across the globe on Friday, calling for their local governments to bring sanctions against Israel and for the fighting to come to an end.
In London, several celebrities — including former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox and Bianca Jagger — voiced their opposition to the conflict and called for Israel to halt its assault on Gaza.
A large protest in Bern, Switzerland, saw hundreds of marchers calling for both a ceasefire and sanctions to be brought against Israel.
Thirty-seven people were detained in Moscow after protesting the conflict outside the city’s Israeli Embassy.
About 6,000 people chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” in Tehran, Iran.
Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchhehr Mottaki, said that if Israel launches a ground raid on Gaza it will be “the biggest mistake of the Zionist regime.”
Egyptian officials sent hundreds of riot police to a Cairo mosque to keep protesters away and police arrested 40 members of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition group. Another 3,000 pro-Gaza supporters marched in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish.
Some 30,000 Jordanians made their support for Gaza known at a stadium in Amman, and 10,000-plus Muslims marched through Jakarta, Indonesia aiming fake missiles at the city’s U.S. Embassy that were labeled “Target: Tel Aviv, Israel.”
Similar anti-Israel protests took place in the capital cities of Afghanistan and the Philippines, as well as in several Turkish cities and in Damascus, Syria.
Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly spoke with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday and asked for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution to force Israel to immediate stop its military actions in Gaza.
In Nairobi, Kenya, hundreds of Muslims held a rally at a central mosque. Many chanted for their government to cut off its ties with Israel.
In Sudan, thousands of protesters marched through Khartoum making anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. statements.
Continued calls for a ceasefire
On Friday, Israeli leaders also remained cool to calls for a ceasefire.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to push for a cessation of fighting when he visits the region next week. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she has no plans to make a similar trip.
“Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage ever since their illegal coup against the forces of President Mahmoud Abbas,” she said.
She said the United States wants to see a “durable and sustainable” ceasefire.
Democratically-elected Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’ Fatah forces in 2007. Abbas then set up a rival government in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, here in Canada, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bryon Wilfert called on all sides of the dispute to halt the violence so that desperately needed aid can reach the residents of Gaza.
“Canada wants to have a situation where both sides end the hostilities. A permanent ceasefire needs to be put in place,” Wilfert told CTV Newsnet on Friday.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has previously urged for the two sides to work towards a ceasefire and for “Israeli and Palestinian leaders to remain committed to finding a comprehensive peace settlement.”
Christopher Gunness, a United Nations Relief Works Agency spokesperson, said some aid has made it through in the last day. But he added that with each bomb that Israel drops, the situation worsens for children and families.
“Today, we got 63 trucks into Gaza … as each bomb drops in Gaza so does the humanitarian crisis increase,” Gunness said.
“We are struggling. We are working amidst the most awful, volatile security situation.”
He said that so far aid organizations have only been able to get some fuel and food into bombed territory. He also noted that the medical situation is so desperate in Gaza that people with limbs blown off are being turned away because of a lack of supplies.
“If your foot is shot off — and it’s not life-threatening — you’ll be sent home,” he said.
Unnerved by Israel’s latest deadly assault on Gaza, a handful of Jewish and Palestinian Montrealers rallied downtown Friday to denounce the week-long attacks that so far have left more than 400 people dead.
Members of the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid and another group calling for Palestinian and Jewish unity gathered in bitter cold for a brief protest vigil at noon at the corner of St. Catherine St. and McGill College.
Waving placards that read “Save Gaza”, and carrying banners calling for “An End to Israeli Apartheid,” the two dozen or so demonstrators were almost outnumbered by reporters and television crews dispatched to cover the rally on a slow news day.
With Israeli troops and tanks massing along the border with Gaza in preparation for what appears to be a massive ground invasion, organizers say bigger demonstrations are planned for Montreal in the weeks ahead to show solidarity with innocent civilians in Gaza who are ”suffering under bombardment.”
Laith Marouf, national chapter co-ordinator for Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, said the demonstrators are also upset with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “callous attitude in support of the Israeli action.”
Bruce Katz, a spokesperson for Palestinian and Jewish Unity said although this afternoon’s demonstration was small, it represents “the ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of public opinion,” for a humanitarian solution to the conflict in the Middle East.
“The liberation of Palestine, of people who have been kicked around for 60 years, and the liberation of Jews from Zionism go hand in hand,” Katz said. “You can’t have one without the other.
“No one should ever be a slave to any state, including the State of Israel,” he said.
Another protest demonstration against Israel planned for Sunday will begin at 1 p.m. at Cabot Square, outside the AMC Forum. And another similar rally is planned for Jan. 10.
There is also an event scheduled in Vancouver in the near Future as well.
If you can’t get out to protest, you can sign the Petitions at the page below. Take Action now.
From the American Media
As Diplomacy Fails To Halt Israeli Offensive, Protestors Lash Out Against Both Attacks On Hamas, Palestinian Rockets
Jan. 3, 2009
(CBS/AP) Protests against Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza continued around the world, as calls for a ceasefire were raised – along with cries for revenge.
Meanwhile, thousands of Jews and Christians are expected at demonstrations to be held this weekend in New York, London, Toronto, Miami, Washington, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv to protest Hamas’ rocket attacks from Gaza.
Some activists are billing the demonstrations as counter-rallies against what they call “assemblies of hatred for Jews and Israel.”
Sunday’s protest in Miami, to be held at the Holocaust Memorial, is billed as the Rally For Israel to Destroy Hamas.
The protests are ramping up as Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip enters its second week, with warplanes and gunboats blasting more than two dozen Hamas positions Saturday.
“We will do all that is necessary to provide a different reality for southern Israel, which has been under constant attacks for the past eight years,” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Channel 2 TV.
The complexity of protesting military strikes in Gaza was recognized as far away from the Middle East as Sioux Falls, S.D., where about 50 people gathered in 16-degree weather Friday near the Islamic Center to denounce U.S. aid to Israel, saying Israel’s actions have killed civilians.
Protester Mohamed Sharif of Sioux Falls said they want an immediate cease-fire and humanitarian aid to the people living in Gaza.
“People are being deprived of their necessities, water and medicine and food and clothes. Now they’re being killed. This is what we’re opposing, the killing of civilians,” Sharif said.
South Dakota Peace and Justice Center director Deb McIntyre attended the rally and said the U.S. shouldn’t pay for Israel’s militarism.
The issue is more complex, others said.
“Certainly, the protesters in Sioux Falls have a legitimate complaint about the Israeli attacks,” said Kurt Hackemer, a University of South Dakota history professor. “But the flip side is the Israelis have been taking rocket fire from Hamas for months now. There have been Israeli deaths and casualties.”
The bitter divide was evident across the globe.
In Lebanon Saturday, hundreds gathered outside the United Nations compound in Beirut, carrying flags and banners supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.
Palestinians in Lebanon have been protesting for the past eight days to show their solidarity with the people of Gaza.
A number of Hezbollah lawmakers and supporters also took part in Saturday’s protest.
(Hundreds of shoes lie in the street after protesters attempted to throw shoes into Downing Street in London, Jan. 3, 2009. Thousands voiced their anger at the bombing of Gaza in a series of rallies across the U.K, Saturday.)
The Head of Hezbollah’s political bureau, Mahmoud Qomati vowed that Hamas’ response to the Israeli military offensive will be similar to that of Hezbollah during Israel’s war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
“The resistance in Gaza is preparing surprises for the Israeli enemy,” said Qomati, who promised Israelis “will be surprised in Gaza with a fierce, brave, and heroic confrontation which will lead to their defeat, God willing.”
Police in Berlin said about 2,000 protestors marched with banners and Palestinian flags from Adenauer Platz to Wittenbergplatz. Protestors chanted “Stop the child murder at Palestine” and “Stop the blockade at Palestine.”
Protestor Achmed Otur said Israel’s policy with the Palestinians “just creates distrust between East and West, between Muslims and Christians and Jews. It only divides and all trust is destroyed in this kind of world.”
While international pressure for a ceasefire has been growing, protestor Malik Hamudsaid said, “We only see conferences talking about fighting terrorism one day. Is this how one fights terror, by slaughtering people and by saying you are not allowed to do something? Terror is when you spread fear and terror among the civilians, and what Israel is doing is pure terror.”
In The Netherlands, thousands of people marched through Amsterdam, criticizing both the Israeli attacks and the Dutch government’s failure to condemn them. One banner declared: “Anne Frank is turning in her grave.”
Barbed Wire And Skulls
In Bogota, Colombia, demonstrators walking through the streets set fire to self-styled Israeli and U.S. flags, complete with drawings of barbed wire and skulls.
Ali Nofal, a protester of Palestinian origin participating at the rally in the Colombian capital, said that an end to the Gaza conflict is in the hands of the Israeli government, “because we, the Palestinian people, have nothing to say to this policy of aggression. The entire world and the U.N. Council have the way to end this, the Western world has the way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
In Cyprus, 2,000 demonstrators, including Palestinians and Greek and Turkish Cypriots, converged Saturday in the center of the Cypriot capital of Nicosia. It was the largest protest on the Mediterranean island so far on the issue of Gaza.
The peaceful rally turned violent when some protesters tried to pull away barbed wire and break through a line of riot police blocking a road leading to the Israeli embassy.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators pelted Cypriot riot police with rocks, sticks, shoes and oranges.
The demonstrators eventually stopped and dispersed after protest leaders pleaded with them to stop.
In Athens, however, a protest march turned violent, as protesters threw stones and fire bombs at riot police, who retaliated with tear gas and stun grenades.
An estimated 5,000 protesters marched from the city center to the Israeli embassy on Saturday. Police cordoned off the embassy.
Most of the protesters were Palestinians but leftist organizations and union members also joined in. Outside the embassy, anarchist youths joined the fray, targeting Greek police rather than the embassy. An Israeli flag was burned by demonstrators.
Some protesters also threw stones at the U.S. embassy without causing damage.
In Jakarta, hundreds of Indonesians from various Muslim groups staged a protest in front of the U.S. embassy on Saturday to voice their concern over Israel’s military offensive on Gaza.
The protesters demanded the U.S stop their support of Israel and called for solidarity among Muslim brothers within Indonesia.
Jeje Zainuddin, a Muslim youth group leader, said, “I think all the nations agree that what Israel has done is inhuman, but the problem is, will the international community dare to condemn Israel’s actions?”
“We still hope that the United Nations and America will get involved in the process, because this is not just about Muslims, it’s about universal human rights,” Zainuddin said.
At a protest yesterday outside Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Calgary constituency office, demonstrators compared Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Adolph Hitler.
Muslim Council of Calgary chairman Nagah Hage denounced Olmert as a Nazi for what he called the “barbaric” bombing of Gaza, and said Harper’s support for Israel makes him complicit in the Gaza bloodbath.
A lone counter-demonstrator defending Israel’s right to stop Hamas rocket attacks was cursed by the crowd.
More Throwing Of Shoes
In London, several thousand people, many carrying Palestinian flags, marched past Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street residence to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Outside Downing Street, hundreds of protesters stopped and threw shoes at the tall iron gates blocking entry to the narrow road.
Shoe-throwing has become a popular gesture of protest and contempt since an Iraqi journalist pelted U.S. President George W. Bush with a pair of brogues in Baghdad last month.
Among the London marchers were activist Bianca Jagger, ex-Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox and comedian Alexei Sayle.
“As a Jew, it’s very moving to see so many people who are so outraged at Israel’s actions,” Sayle said. “Israel is a democratic country that is behaving like a terrorist organization.”
Rallies were being held in other British cities, including Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
Outside the Israeli Embassy tempers flared, as protestors threw a barrier at police.
The clashes began after a small group of protesters stormed a barrier that had been penning them in. Riot police were brought in to control the crowds and demonstrators were seen being handcuffed and taken away by officers as they tried to clear the street.
Several protesters left the scene with bloodied faces, according to a reporter from the Press Association.
Brown’s office said Saturday the British leader had phoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and called for an immediate ceasefire.
“Rocket attacks from Hamas must stop, and we have called for a halt to Israeli military action in Gaza,” a spokesman said, on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. “Too many have died and we need space to get humanitarian supplies to those who need them.”
President George W. Bush has declined to criticize Israel, branding Hamas rocket fire an “act of terror.” But he has joined other world leaders in calling for an internationally monitored truce.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon also has backed a cease-fire, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to visit the region next week as part of a diplomatic push to stop the violence.
The History Behind Gaza Conflict
CBS Evening News: Renewed Fighting Between Israel And Hamas Has Long Back Story
CBS) In many ways, the conflict between Israel and Hamas was inevitable — ever since Hamas took control of Gaza from moderate Palestinian forces 18 months ago. CBS News Correspondent Sheila MacVicar reports.
Tens of thousands in the Muslim world protested Israel’s continuing bombardment in Gaza and chanted, “Down with Israel.”
In Cairo, where the Egyptian government had been key in brokering the now-collapsed ceasefire, people called for an end to cooperation with Israel.
If history has shown us anything, getting any cooperation over Gaza has been nearly impossible, reports CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar.
Thirty miles long, at most ten miles wide, and twice the size of Washington D.C., Gaza is one of the world’s most densely populated places.
It was ruled by Egypt until captured in the 1967 War. Gaza was occupied by Israeli soldiers until three years ago.
When Israel unilaterally withdrew, it left behind a vacuum filled by Hamas, the Islamist group which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Hamas is now the elected leadership of Gaza.
“The Israelis, as far as they’re concerned, what they face with Palestinian resistance and in particular from Hamas, is in their book no different than what the United States faces from al Qaeda,” said Rosemary Hollis, a Middle East expert at City University London.
Since 2005, Hamas militants and their allies have launched more than 6,000 rockets at Israeli targets. Ten people have been killed.
As candidate Barack Obama discovered when he toured the frequently hit Israeli town of Sderot last summer, however crudely ineffective the attacks, people did live in fear.
“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that,” Obama said on July 23.
But the violence was not one-sided. Israel carried out targeted killings. And more importantly for the people of Gaza, it imposed and tightened an economic blockade that cut off supplies of food, medicine, and even electricity.
The theory was that would encourage Palestinians to reject Hamas. It didn’t work.
Unwilling to talk to Hamas, with Israeli elections coming soon and no serious prospects for peace, Israel did what it has done before and vows to continue.
Well that is a very short sighted History if you ask me. There is so much more that people should be told of what is happening in Gaza. One must go back to 1946 and before and for sure after. What happened after 1946 is what most do not seem to know anything about.
It seems most of what happened is not known by most who think Israel is right in murdering innocent people in Gaza.
So one has to wonder who is the thief that stole their country? Who helped them? If you don’t know then find out before you allow Israel condemn those in Gaza.
This is now Called for the most part Israel but it was once Palestine.
Saturday Reports:Reports on: Demonstrations Against Israels attacks on Gaza, January 3, 2009 London Paris etc
Added January 5 2009