How Canadians help and harm the people of Gaza

On June 29, Canadians on small ships on their way to Gaza were intercepted by Israeli boats in international waters.

On June 29, Canadians on small ships on their way to Gaza were intercepted by Israeli boats in international waters off the coast of Egypt.

Their goal was to deliver solar panels and medical supplies to Gaza and receive Palestinian goods to be sold abroad. Several hundred thousand dollars were raised in Canada for the solar panels to be placed on hospitals so people could receive life-saving medical care.

The Canadian contingent included Bob Lovelace, former chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and professor of indigenous studies at Queens University. Also on the flotilla ships were McGill University professor Ehab Lotayef and Kevin Neish, who was among a number of people arrested and later released by Israeli authorities.

In total there were 47 passengers from 17 countries. Internationals included Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Israeli parliament, former Tunisian president Moncef Marzuki, Spanish member of the European Parliament Ana Miranda, and athletes, diplomats, journalists and a Catholic nun.

This is the third time a flotilla of small ships has tried to deliver goods to Gaza. In 2010, Israeli commandos boarded one of the boats carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Nine people, including a teenager, were killed.

Canadians help support the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, which serves the tens of thousands of families traumatized by Israels four military assaults since 2006. And we contribute to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has served the hundreds of thousands of refugees forced from Israel since 1948.

Canadians fill auditoriums to hear the truth about Israel and Gaza.

We were first to host an Israeli Apartheid Week, led by Palestinian Canadians including spoken word artist Rafeef Ziadah, a child survivor of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, when up to 3,500 Palestinian and Lebanese refugees were killed by a right-wing Lebanese militia under the eyes of the Israel Defense Forces. This last year, Canadians in many cities heard Israeli journalist Gideon Levy speak about the cruelty, indifference and racism of his society against Gazan citizens.

But Canadians also unknowingly donate to Israels military through their pension funds, which invest in Israels weapons and surveillance industries. And while so many of us want Gaza to live, the Canadian government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel.

The UN has just released a report on Israels 2014 devastating assault. The toll on civilians, particularly children, was shocking and heartbreaking: 551 children were killed and 18,000 homes were destroyed. The UN investigation found that much of the electricity network and water and sanitation infrastructure were incapacitated. Seventy-three med-cal facilities and many ambulances were damaged. At the height of the hostilities, the number of internally displaced persons reached 500,000, or 28 per cent of the population.

The Gaza flotillas will continue until the carnage ends.

Judith Deutsch is a member of Independent Jewish Voices. | @nowtoronto

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