Montreal

Thousands march through downtown Montreal in support of Palestinians

Thousands of people demonstrated in Montreal early Saturday afternoon, gathering downtown to urge the Canadian government to offer aid to Palestinians as Israel slammed the Gaza Strip with airstrikes.

Demonstrators call for boycott of Israeli goods, end to the occupation of Palestinian territories

The demonstration in Montreal attracted thousands as they denounced Israel's military actions in the Palestinian territories. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Thousands of people demonstrated in Montreal early Saturday afternoon, gathering downtown to urge the Canadian government to offer aid to Palestinians as Israel slammed the Gaza Strip with airstrikes.

Horns were blaring, firecrackers and smoke bombs were set off, Palestinian flags were waved, signs were held high and participants chanted — calling for a boycott of goods from Israel and for an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories.

Demonstrators also denounced the power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians.

They tried to march against traffic along Ste-Catherine Street, but were soon stopped by Montreal police. Several small gatherings also took place in different parts of the city, such as La Fountaine park.

Montreal police spokesperson Const. Raphaël Bergeron said there were several interventions throughout the event, which rolled into the late afternoon.

A man was arrested for breaking a window early in the protest, and a couple of small groups threw objects at police, he said.

"Most of the demonstrators were quiet," Bergeron said.

Later, people were climbing on buildings and other structures, he said, as protesters fanned out into the city.

Smoke bombs were set off, and people climbed up on structures like walls and scaffolding during the protest. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The demonstrations, which erupted in several cities across Canada, come on the same day that Israel hit the Gaza Strip with airstrikes.

The dramatic escalation included: bombing the home of a senior Hamas leader, the killing of 10 Palestinians in a refugee camp and the destruction of a building in Gaza that housed The Associated Press and other media.

The Hamas militant group continued a stream of rocket volleys into Israel, including a late-night barrage on Tel Aviv.  One man was killed when a rocket hit his home in a suburb of the seaside metropolis.

With a U.S. envoy on the ground, calls increased for a ceasefire after five days of mayhem that have left at least 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza — including 41 children and 23 women — and eight dead on the Israeli side, all but one of them civilians, including a 6-year-old child.

"The campaign will continue as long as it is required," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised speech on Saturday evening.

With files from Radio-Canada and The Associated Press

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