Hundreds in Winnipeg rally amid Israel-Gaza war

Hundreds gathered for a rally in Winnipeg to support Israel as the Israel-Gaza war continues.

The crowd, estimated to be around 500 people, was outside the Asper Jewish Community Campus Tuesday night – many dressed in blue and white – for the Israel Solidarity Rally. The rally comes days after Hamas militants stormed Israel on Saturday, launching a deadly attack.

Jewish Federation of Winnipeg President Gustavo Zentner says he’s thankful for the outpouring of support for the community as they grapple with the news.

“To wake up on Saturday to learn of this devastating terrorist attack, it’s really shattered the core of our community and the core of all Manitobans and all Canadians,” Zentner said.

He says many people in Manitoba have loved ones in Israel. He says some Manitobans have been caught in the conflict but was unable to provide an estimate of how many Manitobans are currently in Israel.

 “We’re here together to denounce a terrorist attack. We’re not here to defend one side or the other. There’s always going to different political views,” Zentner said.” That’s not why we’re here tonight. We’re here to heal together in the loss of more than 700 people.”

Zentner says they are also gathering together for those who have been kidnapped. That includes Winnipeg-born peace activist Vivian Silver who has been taken by Hamas militants.

On Sunday night, Silver’s cousin Les Silver told CTV News “you hope that somebody with the kind of great intentions that she has will be able to deal with the situation and come back safe and sound.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Manitoba’s premier-designate Wab Kinew commented on the unfolding violence.

“What we’ve seen in Israel is horrifying. The targeting of civilians should never happen and the State of Israel has a right to exist and a right to defend itself,” Kinew said.

Kinew, Premier Heather Stefanson, and Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham were present at the rally.

Gillingham told the crowd Esplanade Riel would be lit up blue and white Tuesday in support of Israel.

In a post on Facebook hours before the rally, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg said the rally did have ‘robust’ security measures along with a heightened police presence, professional security guards and other safeguards in place.

The Winnipeg Police Service said in a Tweet Tuesday afternoon that officers would be there to monitor the rally and ensure public safety and order.

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