VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Downtown Vancouver was at a standstill Saturday afternoon, as a demonstration in support of Palestinians moved through the streets.
Before marching through the streets and finally congregating at the U.S. Consulate, a few hundred people gathered at West Georgia and Howe Streets wearing masks and socially distancing, to denounce the recent attacks on Gaza and Sheikh Jarrah.
The protest was organized by the Canadian Palestine Association, along with support and endorsement from Jewish Voices Vancouver and Socialist Action B.C.
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On the Facebook event page, the organizers say, “May 15 marks 73 years of Palestinian dispossession and attempts to erase Palestinian territory from the map of the world. It also marks decades of Palestinian resistance and refusal to accept Israeli settler-colonialism and occupation.”
Tensions began in east Jerusalem earlier this month, with Palestinian protests against the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews.
The latest outburst of violence began in Jerusalem and has spread across the region, with Jewish-Arab clashes and rioting in mixed cities of Israel. There were also widespread Palestinian protests Friday in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot and killed 11 people.
An Israeli airstrike destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by the military to silence reporting from the territory amid its battle with the militant group Hamas.
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The spiraling violence has raised fears of a new Palestinian “intifada,” or uprising at a time when there have been no peace talks in years. Palestinians on Saturday were marking Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when they commemorate the estimated 700,000 people who were expelled from or fled their homes in what was now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. That raised the possibility of even more unrest.
Since Monday night, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, which has pounded the Gaza Strip with strikes. In Gaza, at least 139 people have been killed, including 39 children and 22 women; in Israel, eight people have been killed, including the death Saturday of a man killed by a rocket that hit in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv.
– With files from The Associated Press