WATCHING THE HORROR FROM A DISTANCE
Calgary’s Palestinians call for a stronger response from Canada to the violence in Gaza
Inside the movie theatre, Maya Al-Ghoul’s children were immersed in the fictional chaos and devastation of Avengers: Infinity War. But outside, Al-Ghoul was trying to comprehend some all too real-world chaos and devastation.
Amid the darkness of the cinema, a phone call from a friend in the Palestinian territories had disturbed Al-Ghoul. She went outside to answer because answering phone calls from her homeland is usually an unsettling experience.
“You get a call from Palestine and you’re just hoping it’s ‘Hi, how are you?’” Al-Ghoul said.
But this wasn’t one of those calls.
The deadliest violence in Gaza since 2014 was sparked Monday as Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinians protesting along the border fence, killing at least 60 and injuring as many as 2,700 during protests that coincided with the ceremonial opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Al-Ghoul still has a lot of family in Gaza. After being told of the chaos, the Calgary mother quickly made the rounds of calls to make sure they were still alive.
“I cried a lot and it’s not just because I’m sad about what happened, but because I’m so angry,” she said. “My anger stems from knowing that it’s not the first time that’s happened and our politicians are silent about it. They’re not doing anything or saying anything to stop it.”
That feeling of frustration is shared by many in the Palestinian community in Alberta. During a press conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his concerns over the killings, saying the thoughts of the world are with the victims in Gaza. But he stopped short of condemning Israel’s role in the bloodshed.
“We are calling for a stop to the violence, a de-escalation of the violence in the region right now,” Trudeau said.
But that response is still not strong enough for many Palestinians here.
“I feel really angry and frustrated and, to be quite frank, I am quite disgusted with Canada’s complicity in all of this,” said Saba Amro, who runs the Justice for Palestinians group in Calgary.
The group strives to support Palestinian ex-pats and educate politicians and the public on issues facing their homeland while pushing for change. At a Tuesday vigil at Calgary City Hall they again called for an immediate end to the violence in Gaza.
Amro said she would like to see the Canadian government follow through on economic sanctions on Israel, or at the very least acknowledge the human rights violations that Israel has committed.
For her part, Al-Ghoul also wants to see Canada publicly condemn Israel.
More reactions from Calgary residents at thestar.com/calgary
The father of 8-month-old Leila Anwar Ghandoor, who died in hospital on Tuesday from tear gas inhalation, carries her for burial. Calgary’s Palestinian community is calling for action to end the violence in Gaza.