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Israeli consulates occupied in protests against Gaza incursion

Canadian critics of the invasion of Gaza have occupied Israel’s consulates in Toronto and Montreal this week, with a group of Jewish Canadian women conducting a sit down in the Toronto consular offices on January 7 and a broadly based social justice coalition called Tadamon ( “solidarity” in Arabic) blocking the doors to the Montreal consulate on January 8.

In both instances, police detained and removed demonstrators, but did not formally arrest them.

“We were doing this action as Canadian and Canadian-Israeli Jewish women because we felt a need to let people know that there are Jews who are appalled by the actions of the Israeli state: the invasion, the siege, the brutal Occupation and policies of discrimination and dispossession of the Palestinian people,” Miriam Garfinckle, one of the eight women who occupied the Toronto consular offices, told the Tyee by email.

“The Israeli State does claim to be a Jewish state so we feel it's important to speak out against the atrocities committed in our name. We feel that there will only be peace when there is justice for Palestinians and an end to the violence.”

(According to the Associated Press, during the afternoon of January 8, Palestinian medics and humanitarian workers had counted 169 children and teens younger than 17 killed during Israel’s incursion into Gaza since December 27. Other reports put the total war death toll at over 760.)

Mostafa Henaway is a Montreal based community organizer and Tadamon! member who participated in the January 8 action in which 20 demonstrators blocked the doorway leading into the Montreal consular offices at One Westmount Square.

He told the Tyee by phone that his group’s action ended at noon Montreal time on the 8th when police removed activists from the building.

“We are very pleased with how it went,” Henaway said. “This has been a huge inspiration, and we have been getting supportive phone calls all day. We want Israel to end the siege and end the occupation, and we want the right of return for Palestinian refugees to be recognized. We want the Canadian government to support those demands and we want Canada to restore funding to Gaza. Canada was the first country in the world, even ahead of the US, to cut off funding when Hamas was democratically elected.”

Tom Sandborn is a contributing editor for the Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at tos@infinet.net.

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