Mideast conflict sparks more protests in T.O.
Palestinian supporters in Toronto are planning more protests to urge the Canadian government to speak up against Israel's escalating military action on the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, thousands of people gathered outside the Israeli consulate on Bloor Street to voice their concern about the violence which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.
The conflict began on Dec. 27, with Israel saying it would no longer tolerate rocket attacks from Hamas on its border towns -- attacks that had intensified after the end of a truce agreement.
Rafeef Ziadah, spokesperson for the Palestine House in Toronto, called Israel's response a disproportionate use of force.
"This is not self-defence," she said. "Civilians are the ones being killed today."
The Palestine House organized Saturday's rally and Ziadah said more protests are being planned as the organization is watching developments in the Middle East closely.
Saturday's protest was one of many held by Arab communities around the world.
Meanwhile, supporters of Israel are planning their own rally in Toronto. A rally is being planned for Thursday night to show solidarity with the military and their fight against Hamas.
Meir Weinstein, with the Jewish Defence League, says Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilians.
"What the Jewish government is doing is ordering the Israeli Defence Force to finally take action against those sending rockets to Israel," he told CTV Toronto. "What does a decent person expect to do? This is not a game."
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that Israel would protect its civilians from rocket attacks, which continued throughout the air assault.
"This morning I can look every one of you in the eyes and say the government did everything before deciding to go ahead with the operation," Olmert said.
Israeli officials have said they do not intend to occupy the Gaza Strip and have been clear that the goal is to stop rocket attacks.
However, the ground offensive would not be "a rapid one that would end in hours or a few days," warned one senior military officer, who asked not be named.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the ground offensive "brutal aggression," and reached out to his rivals in Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
In response to the troop movement, Hamas officials said Gaza would become a "graveyard" for Israeli soldiers.
"You entered like rats," Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said in a statement on Hamas' Al Aqsa TV. "Gaza will be a graveyard for you, God willing."
With a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman