Vancouver rally planned in support of Gaza Strip after at least 16 Palestinians killed during protests

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      Palestinians and their supporters have planned a rally in Vancouver to take place this Friday (April 6).

      The demonstration is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. at CBC Plaza at the intersection of Georgia Street and Hamilton.

      It’s organized in opposition to Israel’s military response to Palestinian protests in the Gaza Strip.

      On March 30, thousands of Palestinians—as many as 20,000, by some estimates—gathered in five camps inside the Gaza Strip near the territory’s border with Israel.

      Members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) subsequently opened fire with live ammunition and at least 16 Palestinians were killed, according to BBC News. Hundreds more were injured, many seriously.

      The IDF has maintained that it deployed live ammunition in response to youths throwing rocks and has claimed that the gatherings are a “cover” for attacks against Israel. Palestinian authorities insist the protests are legitimate and have described the IDF’s use of force as “disproportionate”.

      The demonstrations are primarily organized by Hamas, an organization that in 2006 was elected to govern the Gaza Strip but which Israel, the United States, and Canada officially designate a terrorist organization.

      Since March 30, the protests have continued but the violence has subsided.

      Called the “Great March of Return,” the demonstrations are scheduled to go on for a total of six weeks.

      The event planned for April 6 in Vancouver is organized by the Canada Palestine Association and BDS Vancouver. A statement on the event’s Facebook page says its goal is to exert pressure on the Canadian government.

      “Canadian government officials have not uttered any word to condemn this massacre, let alone apply any sanctions,” it reads. “Canadian media, including the CBC, have tried to obscure Israel's crimes by talking about ‘clashes’ and ‘confrontations’ and ‘rioting’. However, the Israeli military themselves admitted in a tweet that they later deleted: ‘everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.’

      “Israeli media has shown multiple pictures of Israeli snipers lined up on earth embankments, ready to fire at civilians,” it continues. “Which they did, shooting people kneeling in prayer and shooting others in the back as they were moving away from the border. We demand that Israel be held accountable for these continued crimes against the Palestinian people.”

      The violence observed on March 30 is being described as the most severe intensification of hostilities since Israeli forces bombarded the Gaza Strip in 2014. During that conflict, 2,251 Palestinians were killed, according to the United Nations, while Israel saw 67 military fatalities plus seven civilian deaths.

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