More than one hundred protestors marched in front of the Federal Building in Hamilton Sunday, voicing their dissent over Canada's position on the Israel-Gaza conflict.
The protest came hours after Palestinian medical officials announced at least 17 civilians, including women and young children, were killed Sunday by Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as Israeli's military ramped up its operation against rocket attacks initiated from the territory.
One of the strikes flattened the two-storey building of the al-Daloo family in Gaza City. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said four small children from the family and four women are among the dead.
Frantic rescuers pulled the children's bodies from the rubble, including a toddler, as survivors and bystanders screamed in grief. Later, the four children were laid out in the morgue of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital.
It was not immediately clear what the target of the air strike was.
Nafiz Fajem is from Gaza, but lives in Hamilton. His family's greenhouses, their sole source of income, were flattened in yesterday's bombing run.
“But those greenhouses are nothing compared to a family lost,” Fajem told CBC Hamilton.
“I can build it back. But lots of poor people have lost everything. It feels so bad, deep in my heart.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his support for Israel, but urged both sides to "spare any innocent lives.”
"We have been concerned, obviously, for some time about the presence of a terrorist group, Hamas, in charge in the Gaza Strip," he told reporters Friday.
"We condemn this terrorist group's attacks on Israel. We recognize and support Israel's right to defend itself against such terrorist attacks. But obviously, we urge all sides to take all precautions possible to spare any innocent lives."
Fajem said Canada's position of support for Israel just doesn't make sense to him.
“Major powers are supposed to help the poor people,” he said. “They keep saying 'Israel has a right to defend itself' — but what about us?”
Ken Stone, treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, says the Canadian government is becoming more and more isolated in its position on the conflict.
“There is a great deal of concern among people in Hamilton,” Stone said. “They're here to demonstrate against the Canadian government and to voice their displeasure.”
Israel warned earlier Sunday it was widening its range of targets to go after military commanders of the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers, on the fifth day of its campaign against Gaza rocket operations.
At the same time, Gaza militants continued their barrage of rocket fire, firing more than two dozen at Israel on Sunday, including a longer-distance projectile that targeted Tel Aviv for a fourth straight day.
Israel Defense Forces say Rocket attacks from Gaza have wounded almost seventy people and killed at least three.
In total, Sunday's air strikes on Gaza killed nine children ranging in age from one to 11, according to figures provided by al-Kidra.
Al-Kidra said the deaths brought to 66 the number of Palestinians killed in Israel's Gaza offensive, including 32 civilians.
“I'm just here for peace,” Fajem said while surveying the Hamilton protest from the Federal Building steps.
“We just want to live, like everyone else.”With files from the Associated Press