Gaza protest draws hundreds


    Demonstrators march downtown, about 30 groups endorse or participate…


    Jan Ravensbergen, the Gazette. Photo: Ion Etxebarria.

Condemnation of a virtual blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel since last June reverberated loudly yesterday along Montreal’s prime downtown shopping strip.

A vocal 90-minute march by more than 230 demonstrators – punctuated with such chants as: “Israel is criminal, Canada is complicit” – broke the weekend-afternoon tranquility of Ste. Catherine St. W.

Over the past seven months, Israel has imposed heavy restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza and carried out a series of bombing raids. It cited security needs following the June 25 capture of an Israeli army corporal by Palestinian militants.

In Gaza, “the powers of destruction and injustice are clearly in control,” Amir Khadir, co-spokesperson of political party Québec Solidaire, told demonstrators who gathered in front of Concordia University’s Henry F. Hall Building before heading east along Ste. Catherine, from Guy St. to Berri St.

Canada voted against a Jan. 24 United Nations Human Rights Council resolution, sponsored by Syria, calling for Israel to end its siege of Gaza.

Amnesty International reported Wednesday that “most of Gaza’s population is living in abject poverty and has been forced to depend on international humanitarian assistance as a result of the Israeli blockade, which has destroyed the local economy.”

John Dugard, a United Nations human-rights envoy, told Reuters last fall that “Gaza is a prison and Israel seems to have thrown away the key.”

Itzak Levanon, Israeli’s ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, called Dugard’s analysis “one-sided” and said it does not reflect reality.

In Montreal yesterday, Shehrazade Bakarally said: “We’re not seeing or hearing a lot in the media about this situation.” The 25-year-old student was carrying a sign that demanded: “Stop the hunger of the innocent.”

About 30 groups endorsed or participated in the protest, including the Ligue des droits et libertés, the Montreal chapter of the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians, the Fédération nationale des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec and Concordia’s Muslim Students Association.


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