Conflict in the Middle East following the October 7 Hamas terror attack and Israel's response to it spilled over into many nations this weekend, and Vancouver, British Columbia was no exception.
Close to 1,000 pro-Palestine and pro-Hamas protesters marched down Commercial Drive for an "All Out for Palestine" demonstration on Friday.
The protest was organized by a handful of Palestinian organizations, including the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, a Canadian non-profit that was designated a terrorist organization by the Israeli Ministry of Defense in 2021.
Protesters gathered at the Commercial-Broadway Skytrain station and then slowly marched down Commercial Drive during rush hour traffic. Chants condemning Israel for defending itself against the Hamas surprise attack — which included rape, kidnapping, and the mass killing of over 1,300 Israelis — and calls to "free Palestine" were repeated by the crowd.
The demonstration coincided with Hamas founding member Khaled Mashal's call for a global "Day of Rage".
In response to that call, many of Vancouver's Jewish community were on high alert and were cautioned by community leaders to steer clear of the Friday the 13th protest. Some opted to keep their children home from Jewish schools, and the Vancouver Police Department maintained a presence outside of Jewish community centres and synagogues.
"It's unbelievable that in a country like this, like Canada, and you know what, it happened also in Australia and in other places, that the government is allowing this to happen," a Vancouver Jewish woman told Rebel News during a solidarity with Israel protest a few days prior.
"These people that are coming and supporting Gaza or supporting Hamas, they're basically cheering for those crazy violent acts that happened in Israel. It's just not the right time or the right place to support Hamas," she added.
While it is unclear whether or not Friday's protest was an answer to Mashal's call for a global day of rage, the rally speakers failed to condemn the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 or former terrorist leader Mashal's plans for that day.
Rebel News reached out to the Canada Palestine Association, who helped organize the pro-Palestine protest, for comment on whether or not they condone the actions of Hamas or if the rally was connected to the "day of rage," but did not receive a response.
At least one protester did choose to distinguish himself from the Hamas terrorists.
"Every time we try to speak up, we're either labelled like with Hamas or like we support them, which we do not, you know they've done some terrible things. So we are just here to give voice to the people who can't because they just get shut down," the man said during an interview with Global News.
His words were a stark contrast to those of a protester attending a pro-Palestine rally in Mississauga, Ontario that same day. During that protest, a participant wearing gold firearm earrings told Rebel News that Hamas is not a terrorist group and that "every single thing they have done is justified."
On October 12, Israel’s military issued an evacuation order for civilians of north Gaza to relocate to the south before the military begins its ground offensive. Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, has reportedly warned civilians to stay put and taken steps to block road access to the south.
Over 2,000 people in Gaza, including Hamas commanders behind the terror attack, have reportedly been killed since Israel began its defensive attack. The Israel Defense Forces have confirmed that 126 Israelis, including women, children, the elderly, and disabled, are still being held hostage by Hamas.
To find out more about what's happening on the ground in Israel during this war, check out our coverage from Rebel News reporter Avi Yemini, who is reporting from the front lines, at TheTruthAboutTheWar.com.