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Palestinian community gathers to mourn loved ones who died in Gaza

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The reality of war is all too real for Ismaeel Abushaban and his father Adli.

"We're tired of seeing our children die, our mothers cry; we're tired of the screaming, we just want peace," said Abushaban.

Their relatives live in Gaza, caught in the crossfire of the Israel-Hamas war.

"When the bombardment started, they tried to find a safer place but, unfortunately, it was in the path of one of the major shrapnels... it took the life of my niece," said Adli Abushaban.

His niece was just 14 years old. Adli's brother, who is blind, was wounded and his two children also suffereredd severe injuries. All are still being treated in hospital.

"We want to stop seeing blood. How many more lives have to be lost before we see this come to an end?" said Abushaban.

"It's hard to imagine the size or devastation and when you look at the numbers, it is emotionally draining," said Mohamed Abo Kasem, the president of Jerusalem Services Ontario.

He says at least 20 Ottawa families have lost loved ones in Gaza and there may be more as the death toll rises. On Saturday, the community gathered to pay their respects to the dead and provide emotional support.

The gathering came a day after what the Palestinian Youth Movement in Ottawa called an "emergency Gaza rally."

Large crowds made their way through downtown Ottawa Friday night calling on the government for a ceasefire after what organizers say was a complete communication blackout of Gaza and intensified bombardment.

On Saturday, it had been 24 hours since Abushaban was in contact with his relatives, with no idea if they are safe or if there is help on the way.

"I really just want a ceasefire," said Abushaban. "I want to stop seeing Palestinians getting killed. I just want bloodshed to stop. I just want everything to stop." 

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