Large crowds gathered in downtown Toronto today for rallies pertaining to the Israel-Gaza war in Nathan Phillips Square and Christie Pits Park.
The rally at Nathan Phillips Square, organized by the group “Ceasefire Now,” began at 1 p.m. in front of Toronto City Hall.
Vehicle convoys from Hamilton and Pickering were expected to attend in solidarity with pro-Palestinian protesters, organizers say.
The event is part of a wider day of action, in which pro-Palestinian rallies will take place in cities across Canada.
Meanwhile, the rally at Christie Pits Park was organized by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. It began at 1:30 p.m.
This location holds significance for the Toronto Jewish community, as one of the largest outbreaks of ethnicity-based violence in Canadian history occurred at Christie Pits close to 100 years ago, when a youth flew a swastika flag at a baseball game in order to provoke Jewish Canadians.
In anticipation of these and other rallies, Toronto police issued a statement on Sunday telling people to avoid downtown Toronto, if possible.
“We respect the right to protest lawfully,” the statement noted.
“This does not include the right to protest in a manner that may impact hospitals or other critical infrastructure. Please keep hospitals and emergency routes accessible.”
This is the fifth consecutive weekend in which significant protests related to the Israel-Hamas war have unfolded in Toronto.
Last weekend, thousands of people attended another pro-Palestinian rally that began outside the U.S. Consulate on University Avenue and made its way to Queen’s Park.
The Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants carried out a surprise attack, killing more than 1,200 people and taking hundreds of hostages.
In response, Israel has pounded the Gaza strip with airstrikes and Hamas has continued to fire rockets.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says that the air strikes have killed more than 10,000 peopl
Police have advised that Queen Street is closed between University Avenue and Bay Street. “There will be temporary moving road closures,” the Toronto Police Service said in a tweet on Sunday afternoon.
Police said a “large crowd of demonstrators” are marching southbound on Bay Street toward Richmond Street. Their route will take them throughout the downtown core before heading southbound on University Avenue toward Armoury Street.
The demonstration at Nathan Phillips Square has concluded and all roads have re-opened, say police.