By Arman Aghbali
Ryerson students chanted and waved signs outside the Israeli consulate near Bloor Street and Avenue Road last Thursday to protest escalating violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Cries of “Free, free Palestine,” came from a crowd of approximately 300 people in front of the Royal Ontario Museum. Across the street, Israeli supporters called for an end to Hamas’ rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The protest, organized by the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, drew approximately 40 Ryerson students, most of which were from the Society for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
Tamer Al-Balawi, a third-year global management student, saw the rally as an opportunity for dialogue between the two groups, which were separated by a team of Toronto Police.
“We can’t do it any other way. We have to talk. We can’t fight. We just can’t, you know. They’re doing that back home,” Al-Balawai said.
But overseas, Israel continues to launch air strikes into Gaza, and Hamas reciprocates with rocket attacks in southern Israel. The cycle of violence is hitting home for Ryerson students at the rally.
“My friends in Jerusalem … have had to go to bomb shelters several times because the rockets are coming closer and closer,” said Mitch Reiss, president of Hillel, the Jewish students association, whose cousins and friends live in south Israel.
Although he had a midterm exam the next morning, Mohammad Horreya, president of the SJP at Ryerson, held up a sign with a picture of a teenage boy who was killed in one of the Israeli attacks.
“I can’t study,” Horreya. said. “I keep refreshing my browser to see what’s happening.” The surge of attacks began with Israeli rocket fire Nov. 14. According to the Toronto Star, the strikes have killed more than 100 Palestinians, and three Israelis have died from Palestinian fire.