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Ottawa police report sharp uptick in hate crimes since start of Israel-Hamas war

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The Ottawa Police Service is reporting a sharp increase in hate-motivated crimes and other incidents since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

According to new figures from the hate and bias crime unit provided to CTV News Ottawa, there have been 71 hate-motivated incidents reported to Ottawa police between Oct. 7 and Dec. 2. Of these, 57 were deemed to be criminal in nature.

Police said this marks a 238 per cent increase in reported hate-motivated incidents compared to the same time period last year, when 21 hate crimes were reported to police.

Jewish, Muslim, Black, South Asian, and LGBTQ2S+ communities are most targeted, according to police.

Police said Jewish and Muslim residents were the most common targets of hate-motivated incidents this fall, with 55 of the 71 reported incidents affecting those communities, 41 of which were deemed criminal.

Police did not provide a further breakdown between how many crimes targeted Jewish residents and how many targets Muslim residents.

Jewish and Muslim residents and faith leaders have expressed concern about rising incidents of hatred since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched an attack that killed an estimated 1,200 people in Israel. Israeli bombing campaigns in retaliation have killed more than 15,500 Palestinians, the health ministry in Gaza has said. 

Since Oct. 7, examples of incidents reported in Ottawa include a bomb threat to a Jewish school, death threats to a local rabbi, a report of antisemitic messages and gasoline found at the Ottawa Hospital General Campus, charges in connection with antisemitic comments made during an assault in Kanata, and a report of a man allegedly smearing feces on the door of the Islamic Care Centre in Centretown. Police also said they were investigating after a man was photographed with a sign comparing Israel to the Nazis at a pro-Palestine rally on Parliament Hill.

Several prominent Jewish groups are holding a large rally on Parliament Hill Monday in solidarity with Israel and to denounce rising antisemitism. One of the groups participating, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, accused an unnamed transportation company of antisemitism for failing to provide 17 buses to bring supporters to Ottawa, despite paying in advance for transportation.

--With files from The Associated Press.

A shot from the Parliament Hill camera on Dec. 4, 2023, at 2 p.m. A large pro-Israel rally is being held on Parliament Hill. (Hill Cam/PSPC)

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