Hundreds of thousands of people around the world demonstrated on Saturday to protest Israel's bombing of Lebanon. In Toronto, thousands of people gathered, also condemnng Stephen Harper's endorsement of Israel's actions.
Hundreds of red and white Lebanese flags waved on Toronto's downtown streets as thousands of protestors called for an end to the violence in Lebanon.

To the beat of drums, the demonstrators yesterday gathered first at the Israeli consulate on Bloor St. W. before marching to the United States consulate on University Ave.

The horde chanted slogans condemning Israel for the deaths of Lebanese civilians and slammed Prime Minister Stephen Harper's comments calling Israel's response "measured."

Many also called for sanctions and a boycott of Israeli goods and businesses. The chants that rang out included "Shame, Shame, Shame," "The people united will never be defeated," "Shame on you Mr. Harper" and "Arab lives have value too."

. . .

The march began in front of the Israeli consulate under rain and ended at the U.S. Consulate under semi-clear skies. Peggy Nash, a member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park, said the violence must stop.

"We are the voices of sanity, calling for peace," Nash, a New Democrat said.

The Toronto protest was part of several global demonstrations that took place yesterday.

. . . .

In Toronto yesterday, Zahie Awad was one of the many chanting in the crowd. But unlike many others, she was also in tears as she looked into the rows of protestors. Her son, a Canadian citizen, is now in Lebanon, trying to come to Canada with her grandson.

So far, it hasn't been easy, as her grandson's papers were lost when their home was destroyed. Appeals to the Canadian government have been unheeded, she said. She hasn't been able to sleep and yesterday, contact was cut off with her son as Israel stepped up its campaign, Awad said.

Hussein Awad, her other son, said they came to the rally so other Canadians could know what was happening in the Middle East.

"We need Canada to do its role," he said, calling for this country to broker a ceasefire.

Like Awad, all Roni Chaia has been thinking about is his father and sister in Lebanon.

"They say they don't know when they are going to get hit." Chaia said, adding his family is running out of water and food.

"There is no safe place for them in Lebanon."

For Khadijeh Rakie, who also has family in Lebanon, the rally affirmed the belief she has in Canadians.

"The amount of people who showed up today, it's inspiring," she said. "It shows that Canadians do care and that our prime minister is not reflective of the country."
Toronto Star story here.

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