TORONTO – A pro-Israel rally for peace at Queen’s Park took an ugly turn after a fight broke out between Israel and Palestinian supporters.
As pro-Israel supporters gathered to listen to speeches on the escalating situation in Gaza, two young men confronted a counterprotester who held a sign of the Israeli flag with a swastika instead of the Star of David.
The protester holding the sign yelled “one thousand civilian dead! One thousand civilian dead!” before a fight broke out.
Police intervened after the man holding the sign was kicked in the head during the scuffle, and was then escorted away by officers.
Police say no charges were laid in the incident.
It was the one violent incident in an otherwise calm gathering, as the crowd chanted its support for Israel in Hebrew.
Pro-Israel supporters say they came out to support a country that is defending itself from Hamas rocket attacks.
“No country would stand for indiscriminate rocket attacks on population,” said Robert Walker with the organization Canadians for Israel.
“We just had a ceasefire that was broken – time and time again. Israel needs to defend itself. They have that right,” said Ariela Dyer, a pro-Israel supporter.
Speakers at the rally included Conservative MP John Carmichael, who passed along a message from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I am please to take this opportunity to affirm Canada’s strong and unwavering support for Israel,” said Carmichael.
His words drew a loud cheer from the crowd that began chanting “Harper! Harper!”
Also taking place Sunday was a rally of Palestinian supporters protesting the deaths of children in Gaza.
“Children being attacked like this is unacceptable. This is a massacre. To put it lightly, this is pretty much a genocide against an entire generation,” said Housam Silim.
The crowd marched along Bloor Street to the Israel consulate, at Avenue and Bloor Streets located just a few blocks from the pro-Israel rally at Queen’s Park.
At the consulate children left handprints in red paint as a symbol of the climbing death toll in Gaza, where Palestinian health officials say the 20-day siege has killed more than 1,000.
*With files from Global’s Cindy Pom
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