Hamilton community mourns the loss of lives in Gaza with candlelight vigil

Celina Shamon / Sports Editor
Two girls commemorating the lost lives with a candle.

Local residents and families from different communities came together to mourn the lives lost in Gaza at a candle-lit vigil in downtown Hamilton on Nov. 3.  

Not-for-profit organization Hamilton4Palestine organized the vigil at City Hall that included prayers, speakers, spoken word performances and candle lighting.  

Three religious representatives were present at the vigil and spoke on behalf of their respective communities. Local Rabbi David Mivasair, Imam Sheikh Ayman and a committee founder and leader from the Christian-Palestinian community in Hamilton spoke on the importance of basic human rights and acknowledged the continuing tragedies in Gaza. 

The organizers tried to read out the names of each Palestinian civilian who has died since Oct. 7, but it took them two and a half hours just to get through the names of children under nine who have passed.   

Palestinian students from Wilfrid Laurier University were present amongst the crowd, paying respect to the loss of their people back home in Gaza. 

“Even though it’s upsetting to see why we are all joined here together, it’s comforting at the same time because we see people who are not a part of the Arab community that still care and support us,” said fourth-year chemistry student Yousef Abdo. Abdo is also the social media coordinator for Laurier’s Middle Eastern Students’ Association. 

The vigil began at 6 p.m. and was expressed as a silent time of reflection and grief in a Hamilton4Palestine Instagram post caption, which also asked people attending to not start any chants. 

“We have been seeing everything going on in the news, online and on Facebook, and it is horrifying,” said Ali Saddad, a Hamilton resident paying their respects at City Hall. “Just when you think you’ve seen enough, there is always more devasting news, more harm being done to civilians and it is very, very sad to say the least.”  

Hamas invaded multiple locations in Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 Israeli citizens and taking an estimate of 240 hostages, according to the Israel Defense Forces. 

Since then, the Israeli military has carried out persistent air and ground attacks in Gaza, destroying the strip. The Government Media Office in Gaza said at least 15,000 civilians were killed and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 1.7 million individuals were displaced.  

Since Nov. 24, a four-day truce has been agreed on between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Qatar. Both Hamas and Israel agreed to release waves of hostages, allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and pause the war in Gaza for four days. The truce period was eventually extended by two more days on Nov. 27 and then extended for another day on Nov. 30.  

Over the span of seven days, Israel released 240 Palestinian captives out of over 300 hostages on their release list, while Hamas released 81 Israelis and 24 foreign nationals out of the more than 240 hostages estimated to be taken on Oct. 7, according to Al Jazeera reporting. Hamas released five hostages before the truce began. 

Three quarters of the Palestinian hostages on Israel’s release list were captured after Oct. 7 in the occupied West Bank, while the Israeli military detention system has held over approximately 10,000 Palestinians captive over the duration of 20 years, according to child rights organization Save the Children. The longest Palestinian captive on the release list has been held for approximately eight years.  

The demand for an immediate and permanent ceasefire remains persistent nationwide. Over 50 elected government officials from municipalities across B.C. signed an open letter calling on Canada to support a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Celina Shamon / Sports Editor
A man at the vigil holding a poster that says “Justice for Palestine!”

This article was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 4 on Thursday, Dec. 7.

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