Protesters standing outside at Carl Zehr Square, Kitchener, waving Palestinian flags and holding signs reading "STOP BOMBS", "NO MONEY FOR WAR" and "CEASEFIRE". The protesters are wearing coats and it is snowing heavily.



Demonstrators for Gaza took to the streets of Kitchener once again on Jan. 13 at Carl Zehr Square to call for the end to the ongoing genocide in Gaza which hit its 99thday that day. The rally was organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement.  

The rally saw around 250 demonstrators and continued on for several hours within the downtown core.  

“I was super surprised by the turnout, I definitely thought there would be less people today because of the snow but I guess this really shows just how determined the community is here,” Ali Akkaya, an attendee said.  

The rally began at Kitchener City Hall, then transitioned into a march that led around downtown. The demonstration saw heavy police presence  and protestors faced with at least one agitator. 

“We will not waiver in our commitment or resolve and we will make our demands loud and known for as long as it takes,” the Palestinian Youth Movement said in a statement.  

The demands continually stated by organizers are a call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of all political prisoners, an end to Canadian complicity of Israel’s war crimes and an end to the Zionist occupation of Palestine.  

Along with the demands, demonstrators also called out the recent escalation against Yemen from the United Kingdom and the United States. The aggression comes as a retaliation to Yemen’s solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and its action of interception of Israel bound and Israeli owned ships commuting across the Red Sea.  

Although the Yemeni Houthi’s seizure of ships has resulted in no loss of life, the US and UK’s counter attacks have killed many, most recently on Dec. 31, when US Navy helicopters attacked four Houthi vessels resulting in the death of ten Houthis and sinking three of their boats.   

The demonstration in Kitchener also commended South Africa’s case against Israel that is currently underway at the The International Court of Justice (ICJ). Earlier in the week however, Justin Trudeau stated to press that he does not support the allegation of genocide against Israel; a statement that sparked outrage amongst many.   

“South Africa filed a case in the ICJ and very clearly they quoted Israel’s own words that they are committing genocide and our politicians, Justin Trudeau has the nerve to say that he doesn’t agree!” Shatha said.  

As many have been following the recent case brought against Israel by South Africa at the International Court of Justice; it was just this past Friday that the long-anticipated ruling was announced.  

In a majority vote the court ruled in favour of South Africa and concluding that urgent measures are to be taken and that South Africa’s accusations of Israels genocide against Gaza are plausible.  

The court’s decision states that Israel is ordered to take all measures to prevent acts within the scope of the Genocide Convention; that Israel must allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and that Israel must submit a report to the International Court of Justice within one month on steps it has taken to ensure these measures are taken. 

Although some seeing this as a historic victory and are pleased with Israel being held accountable for some of the decade’s long atrocities they have carried out against Palestine and its people, others including myself are underwhelmed by the lack of direct acknowledgment of genocide and the refusal to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.  

“The court gave Israel another month to continue killing, displacing, and starving us,” Gaza based journalist Aseel Mousa told Middle East Eye.  

Understandably, in many ways this case and its outcome reaffirmed feelings of mistrust in the International Court of Justice and that the refusal to call for a ceasefire was an expected failure of the court to the Palestinian people.  

“Today’s decision does not mean that there will be a ceasefire or an actual end to the genocide, which further demonstrates the limitations of the international institutions,” the statement continues with appreciation of South Africa’s work to add additional roadblocks against the Occupation and with the insinuation that there is still much work ahead.  

Initiatives also continue an international level with Iraq joining Yemen in imposing naval blockades against Israel. Indonesia and Slovenia are in the process of filing an illegal occupation lawsuit against Israel at the ICJ and Chile and Mexico are preparing a legal action against Israel for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. Along with this, mass mobilization efforts continue throughout most major cities, ensuring that despite the pressure, this does not end here. 

As an allied community member, I agree with much of the community in the continuation of expression of resistance against the ongoing violence the Palestinians have faced not only since Oct. 7, but since 1948.  

Sometimes as people less impacted, we view these realities as far removed from our scope of action, but it is important to understand we hold impact in our voices and through responses; something that has personally been a driving force in my involvement to the Palestinian liberation initiatives happening here locally.  

The community has demonstrated that it has no intention on slowing down anytime soon with Friends of Palestine continuing to host their silent protest every Saturday in Kitchener and Palestinian Youth Movement and Palestine Solidarity KW hosting a rally this past Saturday in Waterloo, demanding local MP Bardish Chagger break her silence and call for a long overdue ceasefire.