Hands off Gaza protest in Brantford

Celina Shamon / Sports Editor
A woman holding up a sign at the protest.

Hundreds of community members gathered in front of Brantford City Hall on Sunday, Oct. 22 to voice concerns about the Canadian government’s lack of support for Palestinians in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war 

Gaza’s Health Ministry reported a death toll of 5,791, including 2,360 children, and the displacement of over 1.5 million Palestinians. Israel’s Ministry of Health reported their death toll at 1,400 since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.  

Non-for-profit organization Toronto4Palestine organized this protest with the Brantford Muslim Association, the Palestinian Association of Brantford and Brantford Police Services.   

“Palestinians have been dealing with this for over 75 years, so it’s a shame to say that this is nothing new to us,” said Nabil Jalbout, a Canadian-Palestinian at the protest. Nabil has been a volunteer organizer at Toronto4Palestine since 2017, advocating for the rights and needs of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation in Gaza. 

“It is something happening that fits every definition of war crimes and inhumane acts, and they still somehow justify it,” he said. “At this point we are tired, we want the occupation to end, and we want our people and Palestine to be free.”  

The protest began at 1 p.m. and the crowd was led by Brantford police up Dalhousie Street to Brant Avenue, Colborne Street and Clarence Street, then back to City Hall. 

“It was overwhelmingly peaceful” said Adil Khalqi, one of the many Brantford police officers present at the demonstration. “Everybody has the right of peaceful assembly in this country and the Brantford Police Service is happy to be here and support anyone that wants to peacefully demonstrate.”  

The police assigned five to six cars to follow and lead the protest to ensure the safety of protesters and manage traffic interference.  

The large presence of supporters rallied alongside the Brantford Palestinian and Muslim community consisted of a variety of people gathered for one cause. 

“We wanted to stand with Palestinians around the world who are calling for an end to Israeli siege and the 75 years of Israeli apartheid in Palestine,” said James Cairns, a humanities professor at Wilfrid Laurier University who attended the protest with his wife and daughter. 

Cairns has been active in the organization Faculty4Palestine for 15 years, advocating for the rights and protection of Palestinians all over the world. Faculty4Palestine is a non-for-profit created by the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto since 2008 and it consists of over 600 faculty members from all ranks across Canadian universities and colleges.   

Many people who attended were directly affected by the violence in Gaza and held up photos of loved ones who have passed since the Hamas attack on Oct 7.  

“I have my uncles, aunts and all of their children living in Palestine right now who have lost all of their homes and businesses,” said Rewan Elashy, a local resident at the protest. “They are just living in the rubbles now.” 

 “We have so much faith in Canadian people and we have so much faith in God,” she said. “It might take time, but the truth will prevail and if it’s not in our generation’s lifetime, it will be in our kids’.” 

Bystanders downtown refused to comment on the protest. Protests condemning the Israel-Hamas war continue around Ontario and in the Greater Toronto Area. 

“We did not live in Palestine, but Palestine has always lived in us,” said Elashy.  

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