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'Reprehensible and disgusting': Doug Ford speaks out against rallies celebrating Israel attacks

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford is speaking out against a series of events being held that celebrate attacks against Israel that have left more than 700 people dead and thousands more injured.

In a post on social media Sunday, the premier called these events “hate rallies” that celebrate “the kidnapping and slaughtering of innocent Israeli people by terrorists.”

“They have no place in Ontario,” he said, adding that these rallies are “reprehensible and disgusting”.

“Now more than ever we stand with Israel and affirm its fight to defend itself and its people.”

Early Saturday morning Hamas militants fired rockets and infiltrated towns along the Gaza Strip, leaving hundreds dead and even more wounded. Soldiers and civilians have been captured and taken to Gaza as hostages, including children and the elderly.

On Sunday, the Israeli government formally declared war against Hamas, saying they have approved “significant military steps” in retaliation.

About 2,000 people have been wounded on each side. More than 700 people have been reported dead in Israel, the Associated Press reports, while at least 400 more have been killed in Gaza as Israeli forces retaliated.

Canadian and Ontario politicians took to social media on Saturday shortly after the first attack to condemn the violence.

Ford called it a terrorist attack and offered his government’s support to Israel. Opposition leaders joined his condemnation and called for a swift de-escalation of the violence.

It’s not clear what specific events the premier was condemning when he posted to social media on Sunday afternoon; however there is evidence of celebratory events taking place in Toronto.

A group called “Toronto4Palestine” participated in a banner drop at the Roncesvalles Pedestrian Bridge along the Gardiner Expressway.

Video on the group’s Instagram story shows dozens of people standing along the bridge waving flags, asking drivers to “honk their horns for Palestine.” A post on the group’s Instagram page asked people to bring their flags and said “Let’s celebrate.”

Another event appeared to occur at a café in Mississauga, where a large group of people gathered and continued to wave flags, dance to music, and eat cake. Video of the event was posted on Instagram by both Toronto4Palestine and the cafe itself.

The Palestinian Youth Movement is also planning a rally at Nathan Phillips Square for Thanksgiving Monday.

Meanwhile, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has said it will host a solidarity rally at Mel Lastman Square on Monday night in support of the people of Israel. As it is still a Jewish holiday, the UJA has released few details.

In response to inquiries on Facebook, the organization said it is working with Toronto police to ensure safety during the rally.

Toronto police confirmed Sunday morning there may be additional patrols around places of Jewish worship and that officers may be in the area more frequently. However they are not aware of any threats to Jewish communities in Toronto.

The Associated Press is reporting that both Israeli and Palestinian supporters have organized rallies in multiple American cities since the violence broke out.

Tensions have been mounting between Israel and the Palestinians over the last few years, with settlement construction in occupied areas of the West Bank ramping up in the last 12 months, leading to violence and the displacement of Palestinians.

Four wars have been fought in the region since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Israel has maintained a blockade over Gaza since then.

With files from the Associated Press

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