Edmonton was one of several Canadian cities where demonstrations were held amid escalating violence in the Middle East.
Both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli rallies were held in Alberta’s capital Saturday.
The Drive for Palestine car rally started at the Castle Downs YMCA on 153 Avenue and 115 Street and made its way through the city.
It was estimated over 1,000 people participated in the event — waving flags and honking horns from cars lined up on Castle Downs Road.
“Overwhelming support. (I) love the support from the community. Thank you so much to everybody,” Organizer Mousa Quasquas said. “This is not just a Palestinian issue or a Muslim issue or an Arab issue, this is an issue for everyone.
“If you care about human rights, if you care about humanity, you need be here support this.”
The rally travelled on Anthony Henday Drive then north on Gateway Boulevard and through the city.
A group of people also gathered for the Stand with Israel rally Saturday at Hawrelak Park. It was estimated that about 60 vehicles took part in the event.
“We wanted to show our support. All over the world you can see millions of people doing the same thing,” Participant Dana Kilaouzov said. “We wanted to show it also here in Edmonton.”
“We don’t gather for hate. We gather for peace, we gather for happiness, we gather for caring for each other…for our families back home. They’re struggling down there. For our soldiers, they’re fighting a continuous fight that does not stop for not even a minute,” participant Yulian Vaks said.
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City flattened three buildings and killed at least 42 people Sunday, Palestinian medics said. Despite the heavy death toll and international efforts to broker a cease-fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled the fourth war with Gaza’s Hamas rulers would rage on.
In a televised address, Netanyahu said Sunday the attacks were continuing at “full-force” and will “take time.” Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” from the Hamas militant group, he said, flanked by his defense minister and political rival, Benny Gantz, in a show of unity.
The Israeli air assault early Sunday was the deadliest single attack since heavy fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas nearly a week ago, marking the worst fighting since their devastating 2014 war in Gaza.
“There’s so much suffering going on right now. There’s so many laws being broken by Israel,” Kalouti said.
“Just today they bombed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera’s building, just to shutout the media. But as you can see here, we live in Canada and media’s allowed, and I love that we have a democratic state where we can speak our mind and say what we want because unfortunately in Israel they do not allow the people to have rights.”
The latest outbreak of violence began in east Jerusalem last month, when Palestinian protests and clashes with police broke out in response to Israeli police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers. A focal point of clashes was the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint that is located on a hilltop compound that is revered by both Muslims and Jews.
Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on impoverished Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians and has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
— With files from The Canadian Press