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Protest in support of Palestinians takes to the streets of Halifax

Supporters marched from Victoria Park to Peace and Friendship Park calling for a ceasefire

Several hundred people gathered on Saturday, March 2 in Victoria Park clutching signs and flags to call for a ceasefire and protest Israel’s bombings and attacks in Gaza. 

On Oct. 7, 2023, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel by land, sea and air. Israel attacked Gaza in retaliation, forcibly displacing 1.9 million civilians, according to the UN. Israel’s attacks on Gaza are ongoing as the UN and people around the world call for a ceasefire. 

Rana Zaman, an organizer with the Atlantic Canada Palestinian Society, spoke to the crowd of attendees in Victoria Park and throughout the march. 

“To all the public that is here, if you are not aware of the genocide that’s happening to steal Palestinian land, to ethnically cleanse them, to steal their resources, they will not succeed because we are out here,” Zaman said. “In the millions, in the billions, we are all Palestinians.”

After organizers delivered speeches, attendees marched through the streets of downtown Halifax toward Peace and Friendship Park. Organizers led the crowd in chants throughout the march, stopping the group in front of businesses they say support genocide. 

Palestinian and Indigenous organizer Spencer Allen spoke out against Starbucks when the protest marched past the Spring Garden location. Starbucks came under controversy in October after they sued the Starbucks Workers United for tweeting in support of Palestine. 

“Attention Starbucks customers, you may as well be drinking the blood and eating the bones of Palestinian children,” Allen said. “Every time you lay your lips across a paper cup in that shop, a dollar goes to a bullet that lands in a Palestinian civilian.”

Speeches from organizers alternated with chants that rang out over downtown as cars slowed down to honk and wave, eliciting cheers from protestors. 

“Free, free, Palestine!” organizer Rana El-Zoheiry chanted into a microphone at the front of the group as the message echoed onto Spring Garden Road from large speakers towed by a pickup truck. 

Protesters repeated her words as their voices reverberated through the streets. They raised their hands in fists and peace signs while they marched. 

El-Zoheiry works with the Atlantic Canada Palestinian Society. She spoke to the crowd about Aaron Bushnell, an active United States air force member who set himself on fire on Feb. 25 in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. in protest of the deadly Israeli offensive. 

“Watching Aaron from our screens with heartbreak and tears, we can only imagine what it feels like to set yourself on fire,” El-Zoheiry said. “Reaching a point beyond sensation, a point that many in our world have reached without fire, pain or remorse, as they proudly fund the burning and maiming of tens of thousands of Palestinians and calculate the appropriate ratio of bombs to bread to safely annihilate an entire population.”

While on Spring Garden Road, organizers played a recording featuring sounds of bombing and destruction from Gaza. Zaman told protestors they received complaints from nearby hotel patrons when they played the recording at a previous march. 

“Please, anyone who feels that they cannot handle this, cover your ears or leave the area, but keep in mind, this is what the children of Gaza are listening to every minute of every day,” she said.

As of Friday, March 8, 30,878 Palestinians have died in the Gaza Strip and Israel since Oct. 7, and over 1,200 Israelis have died in the conflict, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

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