Protesters from both sides of the Arab-Israeli divide gathered in downtown Toronto early Friday evening in response to the recent violence in the Gaza Strip.
Supporters of the Palestine House and the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid gathered on Bloor Street West near the Royal Ontario Museum to protest what they call the “ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians.”
The Israeli consulate is across the street on the north side of Bloor, near Avenue Road.
“We need to stop this aggression against innocent people,” said Wael Ghuneim, president of the Palestinian Association of Hamilton, while a large crowd of supporters chanted and waved placards.
“This aggression must end … to stop all this blood for both people.”
Israel launched an offensive on Tuesday in response to weeks of heavy rocket fire out of Gaza. At least 103 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. Palestinian militants have fired more than 600 rockets at Israel.
The protest was met with a counter-demonstration, on the opposite side of the street, by members of the Jewish Defence League. The opposing protests were separated by crowd-control fencing and a heavy police presence.
“We’re just here to support Israel,” said one protester, who did not give his name. “It is the only democracy in the Middle East right now … we have to take a stand.”