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Mayors show support for Israel, YRP increases patrols amid Hamas attack

York Regional Police said they have increased patrols around synagogues and mosques, additional faith-based locations and institutions, amid Israel-Hamas conflict
israel embassy otttawa
The Embassy of Israel in Ottawa.

As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues into its fourth day, more than 1,800 people have died on both sides, according to reports.

With the escalating violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and demonstrations in Toronto earlier this week, York Regional Police said in a statement there has been community concern regarding safety and security.

As a result, the force is reassuring citizens they have increased outreach, visibility and police patrols across York Region.

“The executive leadership team and senior command have been carefully monitoring the situation since it began,” York Regional Police said in a news release. “We know global events can have a profound local impact and that many of our residents have been deeply affected by the widespread suffering and unrest. Our thoughts remain with all affected.”

York Regional Police said that they’ll continue outreach to community leaders and have increased patrols, including around synagogues and mosques, additional faith-based locations and institutions, as well as community centres, faith-based educational facilities and other local gathering places. 

Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, launched an attack over the weekend that has killed hundreds and seen many others taken hostage. The Israeli military said more than 900 people have died in Israel since Saturday and that more than 150 soldiers and civilians have been taken hostage.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor took to social media to voice how disturbing he finds the attacks on Israel.

“I find myself thinking about it constantly and wondering how anyone can engage in such acts,” he wrote. “Butchering innocent civilians and taking people hostage are never acceptable.” 

Hamas, founded in 1987 by Palestinian refugee Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, is an organization that has pushed back against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. And Taylor said that as difficult as some of the issues surrounding the occupation may be, “barbaric violence” is unacceptable.

“The people of Israel deserve and require the support of the global community to underscore the fact that these terrorist acts are never acceptable,” he said. “Hamas must be stopped so that this can never happen again.”

Thousands of Canadians gathered in Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square on Monday to show their support for the people of Palestine. The event was organized by the Toronto chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement. 

Yara Shoufani, a PhD student at York University and an organizer with the Toronto chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement, describes the group as a “grassroots movement, Palestinian and Arab youth in exile who are organizing across North America and Europe with the aim of combating Zionism and struggling for the liberation of our people and our land.”

With the pro-Palestinian rallies taking place across the country, Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas posted on social media condemning the glorification of violence.

“The rallies happening supporting and glorifying the abduction and brutalization of innocent Israeli citizens by terrorists is unacceptable in any community in Ontario and Canada,” he said. “At this critical moment, we stand with Israel and unequivocally support its right to protect its citizens.”

York Regional council said in a statement that terror and violence against civilians is not acceptable and is a fundamental threat to free society.

"The increased tension and violence in this region does nothing to move dialogue forward," said Wayne Emerson, York Region chairman and CEO. "Regional council continues to support welcoming and inclusive communities, where diversity is celebrated and everyone can participate freely in society and live with respect, dignity and freedom from discrimination."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about the situation on Monday night, stating that Canada "unequivocally" condemns the attacks.

"We stand with Israel and reaffirm our support for Israel's right to defend itself in accordance with international law," Trudeau said. "These acts are sickening and completely unimaginable. We demand the liberation of the hostages and urge that they are treated in conformity with international law. Hamas terrorists are not a resistance. They aren't freedom fighters, they are terrorists."