Officials in Western countries criticize peaceful rallies in support of Palestinian cause
Officials in Western countries, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K., criticized peaceful rallies in support of the Palestinian cause and pledged full solidarity with Israel amid the ongoing wave of violence and an outrageous Israeli siege, which is currently depriving civilians in the Gaza Strip from basic human necessities such as electricity and water.
Failure to condemn Israeli attacks and human rights violations
The same authorities have failed to condemn incessant Israeli attacks on Gaza and Palestinians over the years, the country’s illegal settlement expansions in violation of U.N. resolutions, the raiding of houses of worship and a countless number of human rights violations against the indigenous Palestinian population.
UK’s top diplomat: Flying Palestinian flag ‘may not be legitimate’
U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman issued a warning to police chiefs on Tuesday regarding the display of Palestinian flags on British streets.
In a letter to chief constables in England and Wales, she suggested that waving the flag “may not be legitimate” if it is seen as a show of support for terrorism.
Braverman said although there are valid reasons for expressing solidarity with Palestinians, certain actions go beyond the boundaries set by the Terrorism Act and the Public Order Act.
She provided examples of protest actions that she believes could potentially constitute public order offenses, including targeting Jewish neighborhoods, waving pro-Palestinian or pro-Hamas symbols and chanting slogans that could be interpreted as anti-Israeli.
Braverman urged law enforcement to employ the “full force of the law” against any demonstrations or displays of support for Hamas, as well as any attempt to intimidate the Jewish community in the U.K. amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The recent escalation of hostilities in the Middle East has led to public displays of solidarity for both sides.
Around a thousand demonstrators gathered in New York’s Manhattan on Sunday in solidarity with Palestinians as a couple of hundred pro-Israel marchers counter-protested.
New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul called the Palestinian solidarity rally “abhorrent and morally repugnant” and ordered landmarks in the state — including the World Trade Center and Niagara Falls — to be illuminated in blue and white.
CAIR warns against inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the U.S.’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, called on peaceful protestors to take security precautions following a surge in racist, hateful and threatening rhetoric online, as well as inflammatory comments by political leaders.
“Political leaders have also attacked pro-Palestinian protesters with blanket condemnations, falsely accusing thousands of peaceful protesters advocating for Palestinian human rights of supporting terrorism,” CAIR said in a statement.
Rallies in support of the Palestinian people were held in Montreal, and Toronto, where demonstrators had “free Palestine” posters, waved Palestinian flags and called for boycotting Israel.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Canadian authorities condemned demonstrations across Canada by those they said were glorifying violence by supporting Palestinian resistance group Hamas’ attack on Israel, as they completely disregarded Israel’s years of oppressive policies, violation of international law and killing Palestinian civilians.
“I strongly condemn the demonstrations that have taken place, and are taking place, across the country in support of Hamas’ attacks on Israel,” Trudeau said in a post on X, formerly called Twitter.
Trudeau joined a solidarity gathering for Israel late on Monday. Political leaders from across the spectrum in Canada have expressed support for Israel.
When asked if he made a distinction between pro-Palestinian protesters and demonstrators supporting Hamas, his office declined to comment.
Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow denounced the demonstrations in the city and said they were unsanctioned. Chow added: “The government of Canada has rightly listed Hamas as a terrorist organization.”
Toronto police Deputy Chief Lauren Pouge said police respected the right to free speech while being against hate speech or speech glorifying violence.
Canadian province Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford, also said, “Hate rallies celebrating the kidnapping and slaughtering of innocent Israeli people by terrorists are reprehensible and disgusting.”
“We are also reaching out to community partners to ensure they know we are here to support them,” a statement said. “Hate Crimes will not be tolerated and will be fully investigated.”
Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise attack Saturday, with fighters infiltrating Israeli towns near Gaza amid heavy rocket fire.
Israel retaliated with a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and imposed a total blockade on the territory, home to nearly 2.2 million people.
At least 830 Palestinians were killed and 4,250 injured in the Israeli bombardment of the strip, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to use all of Israel’s strength to destroy Hamas’ capabilities and to “take revenge for this black day.”
More than 1,900 people have been killed in the violence, including at least 900 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis, according to authorities.
Israel has cut water and electricity supplies to Gaza, worsening the blockaded enclave’s already dire humanitarian situation.
The seaside enclave, home to nearly 2.2 million people, has been reeling under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007.