Palestine and Israel may have reached a ceasefire agreement last week following an 11-day clash, but a Red Deer woman says the conversation must continue.
Lara Al-hmidat, 26, organized a demonstration Friday in support of Palestine. Dozens of central Albertans attended the event in front of Red Deer City Hall.
The people of Palestine “are right now fighting ethnic cleansing,” Al-hmidat said Monday.
“It’s not religious, it’s not a just war, it’s not both sides. We’re talking about an occupation – an illegal occupation. It’s a cause of basic human rights.”
More than 250 people were killed in the 11 days of fighting, the vast majority of them Palestinians.
The fighting began May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. This came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.
Al-hmidat, who was born in Jordan and has been living in Red Deer since 2017, said she wants Canadians to start talking about the situation in Palestine.
“I know Canadians care about their peace of mind, but peace of mind is not something anyone is going to get unless the whole world is living in justice,” she said.
“As long as Israel’s crimes go on, we’re going to continue protesting, shedding light, educating people and raising awareness. The sooner we start talking about it, the sooner governments will take action.”
In addition to the dozens on the sidewalk participating in the demonstration, many honked their horns in support as they passed by, Al-hmidat said, adding there were a few people who voiced their disagreement with the demonstration.
“It’s our obligation to be out there and be the voices of the people whose voices are being stolen,” she said.
Al-hmidat said she believes Canada “is on the wrong side” of the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
“Canada supports Israel and Israel is committing war crimes,” she said.
“It’s exactly what happened with White people and Indigenous people here in Canada. (Israel is) trying to ethnically cleanse the people of Palestine.
“Canada apologized to the Indigenous people here for the crimes they did in the past. I don’t know why we’re supporting the crimes that are happening to Palestine. It’s like we’re making the same mistake over and over again when we can stop it.”
Al-hmidat, whose grandparents lived in Palestine until 1948, said she received approval from the City of Red Deer, Alberta Health Services and RCMP to go ahead with Friday’s demonstration.
—With files from The Associated Press