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‘We have to stand up’: Prince George crowd gathers in support of Palestinians

Supporters of Palestinian civilians affected in recent conflict take to Ospika Boulevard

A crowd of about a hundred people attended a gathering Wednesday at CN Centre to show solidarity with Palestinians amid the recent conflict in Israel.

“It was so important for us to organize this event today to stand in solidarity with Palestinians,” says Lila Mansour, one of the organizers of the event. “We have to stand up against injustices, discrimination, expulsions that Palestinians are facing on their homelands.”

She says raising awareness about the conflict is important because those living in Prince George are also global citizens.

“We are not living in a vacuum here in Prince George. We have to understand what is going on around us whether it is in the Middle East, South America , Europe, Canada or here at home.”

The current round of fighting began May 10 and it’s now reported according to the Gaza Health Ministry that at least 227 Palestinians have been killed, including 64 children and 38 women, with 1,620 people wounded, and some 58,000 Palestinians have fled their homes.

Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a soldier, have been killed.

The fighting, which has been the worst since 2014, has ignited protests around the world.

Aaron Larsen, who visited Palestine while on a trip to the region in 2016, spoke at the rally about how deeply his experiences affected him.

“The reason why I became super passionate about Palestinian rights is because I, just for a brief moment in time, got to see everything that ordinary people in Palestine were living through,” said Larsen, adding he saw a deep level of inequality.

“The only way to solve this problem is by remaining loud, remaining open and remaining honest about what is happening to ordinary Palestinian civilians,” said Larsen.

After a few brief speeches, those in attendance stood on Ospika Boulevard to wave Palestinian flags and signs and passing traffic.

Organizers for the gathering stated outright that violence, hate speech, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or hate comments made regarding Palestinian or Israeli civilians would not be tolerated.

“You don’t have to be an Arab, a Middle Eastern person or a Muslim to stand in solidarity with Palestinians or what is happening,” added Mansour.  “You just have to be a human being who cares.”

- with files from the Canadian Press