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December 29, 2008 - Protest Rally
Protest Israeli Massacre of Palestinians in Gaza!

Organized by various Palestinian solidarity groups

Endorsed by:
Al-Awda - Vancouver, Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign, Canada Palestine Association - Vancouver, Voice of Palestine - Vancouver, The Canadian Arab Federation - National, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights - University of British Columbia, StopWar Coalition, Canadians Against War, Adala - Arab Justice Committee, Vancouver Socialist Forum, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba, Indigenous Rights and Action Project, Fire This Time Newspaper, and Mobilization Against War and Occupation.



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December 29 Rally Report

The last several days have seen hundreds of thousands of people protesting around the world against the recent brutal Israeli military attacks on Palestinians living in Gaza. In Vancouver about 250 people, including many of them students from different campuses in the Lower Mainland, protested on Monday, December 29 against the inhumane Israeli government massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.

The Gaza Strip, surrounded and blockaded by Israel for the last two years, is known as the largest open-air prison in the world. Over the last four days at least 360 Palestinians have been killed and over 1700 injured by Israeli air strikes. Israel Defence Force (IDF) warplanes launched a bombing and terror campaign on the people of Gaza on December 27. Immediately protest actions, including march and rallies in opposition to these atrocities by the government of Israel, sprung up throughout the Middle East, Europe, the US, and Canada.

The Vancouver protest, organized by various Palestine solidarity groups in the city, was loud and energetic, and united people under one main demand: End the siege on Gaza now! For nearly two hours, people were chanting: “Free, Free Palestine”, “Occupation is a crime, from Iraq to Palestine.” People were carrying various signs as well: “No Justice, No Peace”, “End Israeli Apartheid Now”, “Israel Hands off Gaza”, “Stop Massacre of Palestinians”, “Self-Determination for Palestine Now” and “Stop the US-Israeli War Drive.”

The co-MC of the event, Reem Al-Nuweiri from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), gave an update and background on the Israeli war crimes against Palestinians and the current situation in Gaza. There were speakers from Palestinian, Arab and progressive communities. To name a few: Omar Shaban, vice president of the Canadian Arab Federation and one of the main organizers of the march and rally; Khaled Barakat, a Palestinian and the editor of the Arabic language newpaper Al-Sharoq; Hanna Kawas of the Canada Palestine Association; Aiyanis Ormond from the Centre for Social and Economic Justice; and Fatemah Meghji and Dina El-Kassaby with the University of British Columbia student group, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR). Fatemah and Dina spoke at the rally on the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza. “Palestine must not be punished for surviving 60 years of continuous occupation… Where is the justice? You cannot have justice without peace!” (Apologies if any names are missing).

While people were protesting the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, six to eight anti-Palestinian and pro Zionist counter-protesters lined up on the opposite side of the street, protected by more than 12 police officers and one under cover police car. The Zionist counter-protesters screamed, heckled, attempted to provoke the peaceful protest, and tried to yell over the speakers.

Despite this disruption, the dynamic rally continued in an ordered and peaceful form. At the end there was a call for more action against the continuous bombardment of attacks by the Israeli government on Palestinians in Gaza. A second rally has been called for on Saturday, January 3rd at 1pm at the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver (Robson St. side).