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Protesters from across Ontario travel to Ottawa for largest pro-Palestine rally yet


Thousands of people gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Saturday for a rally calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza on the second-day of a four-day pause in the fighting.

There have been protests in Ottawa every week since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, which have grown in size and scope.

Several groups, including the Palestinian Youth Movement and Jews Say No to Genocide, and their supporters gathered in Ottawa Saturday afternoon.

The Palestinian Youth Movement said on social media it is demanding "an end to Canadian complicity in the ongoing genocide in Gaza and colonization of Palestine" and to demand that the government call for a permanent ceasefire in the region. It is also demanding Canada cease selling weapons to Israel.

"We call on Palestinians, Arabs, and people of conscience from all across Canada to make plans to travel to Ottawa on this day for what is sure to be a historic march: together, a people's chorus becomes impossible for the Canadian government to ignore," the group said.

"We are here to call for a genuine ceasefire. Not a pause but a genuine ceasefire," said the Palestinian Youth Movement's Yara Shoufani. "We are here today in a historic march in support of the Palestinian people."

The Jews Say No to Genocide group said in a news release on Friday that it is also calling for a permanent ceasefire, a halt to all military aid and arms sales to Israel and for the government to demand an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

"The continued escalation we are witnessing of the Israeli state-sanctioned brutality, human rights violations and crimes against humanity across Gaza and the West Bank must end now," the group said.

"Canadian Jews add their voices to this global chorus calling for justice for the Palestinian people. As Jews, we cannot and will not stand idly by as the State of Israel - with the full support of the Canadian government - continues to commit atrocities day-in, day-out that go against the very core of our faith."

According to federal government figures, Canada exported more than $21 million worth of military goods and technology to Israel in 2022.

Parliament Hill at around 2:15 p.m. ET Nov. 25, 2023. Thousands of people are gathered to call on the Canadian government to demand a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. (Hill Cam/PSPC)

Organizers say people were bussed in to Ottawa from across Ontario, including Toronto, Mississauga, and Kitchener-Waterloo.

Among the crowd was Ontario MPP Sara Jama, who was ejected from the provincial NDP caucus over a social media post two days after the Oct. 7 attack in which she expressed support for the Palestinian people and called for an end to the "occupation of Palestinian land." She was criticized for not mentioning Hamas or the attack. She later apologized and condemned Hamas, but the Progressive Conservative government censured her in the legislature.

"I'm here today in support of the many Palestinians that are organizing to continue to put pressure on this government for a ceasefire," Jama said Saturday. "We know that a four-day pause is not enough."

Ottawa Centre NDP MPP Joel Harden was also at the rally. 

"Release all hostages. End the seige, end the occupation. It’s time for peace with justice," he wrote on X.

Also in attendance was Dr. Tarek Loubani, from London, Ont., who is facing a mischief charge after an MP's office was vandalized with ketchup following a demonstration in October. Loubani expressed concern about the lack of medical supplies in Gaza.

"They don't have the basic composites of medical care, like water, soap, anesthetic," he said. "With these things absent, they aren't able to do their job appropriately."

Loubani made international headlines when he was detained in Egypt while on his way to Gaza for a medical mission in 2013.

In 2018, he was shot in the legs while helping wounded protesters in Gaza.

After leaving Parliament Hill, demonstrators marched through downtown Ottawa streets.

Protesters march from Parliament Hill through downtown Ottawa calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Nov. 25, 2023. (City of Ottawa traffic camera, Rideau and Sussex)

A four-day ceasefire in Gaza began Friday as part of an agreement brokered by Qatar, to free hostages and prisoners. Twenty-four Hamas hostages were freed Friday, including 13 Israeli citizens, 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino person. Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the war effort will continue after the ceasefire expires.

Over the four days, Hamas is supposed to release at least 50 Israeli hostages, and Israel will free 150 Palestinian prisoners, all of them women and children.

The continued release of hostages from Gaza was delayed Saturday when Hamas alleged Israel violated the terms of the truce; however, it was later agreed that Hamas would release 13 Israelis and seven other foreign nationals in exchange for 39 Palestinians. 

Since the war began, around 1,200 people in Israel have been killed, largely from Hamas's incursion on Oct. 7, while more than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, according the Ministry of Health in Hamas-controlled Gaza, most often because of Israeli airstrikes in retaliation for the Hamas attack.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Natalie van Rooy, CTV News Toronto, CTV News London, and The Associated Press. Top Stories

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