A demonstrator dressed as Spiderman costume waves a Palestinian flag above the entrance of Mount Sinai Hospital as the rally goes by. Photo: Joshua Best
A demonstrator dressed as Spiderman costume waves a Palestinian flag above the entrance of Mount Sinai Hospital as the rally goes by. Photo: Joshua Best

Palestine Briefs

The March that Passed by Mount Sinai Hospital

In February, when Israel began its ground invasion of Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza where hundreds of thousands of people had taken refuge, a protest was called in Toronto.

At the large, hours-long march on Feb. 12, an individual dressed like Spiderman climbed on top of at least eight structures, including lampposts, part of the Eaton Centre, and a closed entrance to Mount Sinai hospital.

After the march, commentators accused the protest of antisemitism for targeting Mount Sinai. The hospital was founded in 1923 by Jewish immigrant women, and while it remains an important institution for many in the Jewish community, Mount Sinai now describes itself as a culturally inclusive hospital open to all.

Within a day, Premier Doug Ford, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mayor Olivia Chow, and the presidents and CEOs of 15 major hospitals in Toronto had denounced the actions as antisemitic.

Organizers and attendees disputed this characterization. The Health Workers Alliance for Palestine called for the hospital leaders to retract and apologize for their statement and denounced the leaders for not making a statement about the 25 hospitals in Gaza targeted by the Israeli military.

The day after denouncing the protest as antisemitic, Mayor Chow said on CBC Metro Morning on Feb 14, “I wasn’t there. I haven’t seen a police report on that event. Right now, there seems to be different interpretations.” The mayor has not retracted her initial statement.
Read our full report, by David Gray-Donald.

Massacre at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City

Following Israel’s two-week siege and second invasion of Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa in Gaza City, hundreds of dead bodies were found in and around the hospital, many in pieces. Israel withdrew on Apr. 1, leaving the hospital completely out of commission and largely destroyed. Mass graves have since been found on the grounds.

According to reporting in Mondoweiss, “the Israeli army shot patients in their beds and doctors who refused to abandon the sick.”

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor called it “one of the largest massacres in Palestinian history.” According to the agency, “preliminary reports suggest that over 1,500 Palestinians have been killed, injured, or are reported missing as a result of the massacre at Al-Shifa, with women and children making up half of the casualties.”

Israel claims it arrested 900 “suspects,” saying 500 were “terror operatives,” and announced it killed 200 “gunmen.”

Unknown Number of Israeli Hostages Still Alive

In early April, Hamas said fewer than 40 Israeli hostages still alive in Gaza were either women, children, sick, or elderly. This indicated that a number of hostages had died. Israel wanted 40 people in that category released as a condition of a ceasefire.

The rest of the Israeli hostages are presumed to be younger men, including soldiers.

Hamas has made periodic announcements that hostages have been killed by Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Israel estimates 33 hostages are dead and around 100 still alive.

Hamas is reportedly holding men with a later deal in mind involving a permanent ceasefire and Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

Families of the Israeli hostages have been holding protests to demand their government does more to secure hostage release deals.

The Story Behind One Palestinian Surgeon’s Crowdfunding Bid to Evacuate His Daughter from Gaza

Amid Israel’s bombing and ground invasion of Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians are turning to GoFundMe to raise enough funds to evacuate their families to safety. Among them is Gaza City surgeon Dr. Abdelwahab Abu Warda. Shortly after Oct. 7, soldiers told residents to flee southward, but Dr. Abu Warda would not leave his patients. His family wouldn’t leave him behind either. Less than a month later, an Israeli airstrike on the surgeon’s home killed 31 of his relatives. As the famine worsened, Dr. Abu Warda appealed to donors worldwide to evacuate his 18-month-old daughter and family to safety.

Read the full story, by Gabe Oatley, on The Grind’s website. An earlier version was published by Future of Good.

Vaughan Mayor Proposing to Restrict Right to Protest

In March, two protests were held in Thornhill, on the Vaughan side of the community, calling out real estate events promoting the illegal sale of Palestinian lands in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

After the initial venue cancelled, the events were held at a synagogue.

At the two protests outside, at least four supporters of Israel were arrested on a range of charges including assault, carrying weapons, and making threats.

In response, Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca said he would introduce a bylaw banning protests near religious institutions. Critics have said this would infringe on freedom of expression rights.

At a town hall with Mayor Del Duca in April, community members in solidarity with Palestine spoke and then interrupted Del Duca, calling on him to abandon the bylaw proposal, to condemn the events illegally selling Palestinian land and to condemn the violence perpetrated by pro-Israel demonstrators against supporters of Palestine. The mayor did not respond directly.

Read our full report, by Scott Martin.

This article appeared in the 2024 May/June issue.