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‘A heavy cloud over us’: Canadians with their loved ones in Gaza, Israel watches with anger as violence unfolds

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As another day of violence unfolds in Gaza and Israel, many with their loved ones in the region are watching with anxiety and heartbreak, unable to see far away as the threat of a land war approaches.

The end of Ramadan, which was supposed to have been a celebration time marked by Eid celebrations, became a gloomy day for Sabrine Azraq’s family in Toronto their heavy hearts as an image of devastation torn from the region.

“There is very little to celebrate when we know what is happening. There is a heavy cloud over us,” Azraq told CBC News. “People are very afraid of what is to come.”

Despite the mother’s family in the West Bank, Azraqand her relatives have not been able to unplug their phones and televisions.

“We are trying to watch live video as much as possible to see what is happening. We are heartbroken,” she said.

Israel on Friday unleashed a heavy barrage of artillery fire and airstrikes as the threat of a ground invasion increased. The goal, said Israeli military spokesman Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus, is “to hit military targets and minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties.”

Meanwhile Palestinian militants have fired about 1,800 rounds in this latest round of conflict that began with Israeli settlers trying to displace dozens of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrahne neighborhood and Israeli security forces descending on Palestinian worshipers in the Alhambra complex. -So last Friday.

Fighting has so far killed 119 Palestinians, including 31 children. Seven Israelis were also killed, including a six-year-old boy and a soldier.

With her mother’s entire West Bank family, Sabrine Azraq supports Palestinian farmers in Jericho by selling products made from dates from the region in the Toronto area. (CBC)

‘Sadness and anger’

It’s a very popular model for the Rabbi Joshua Corberat Beit Rayim Synagogue and School in Richmond Hill, Ont., Which has family members and many friends in Israel.

“They can not sleep, they worry about their children, they get red alarm messages on their phone … So some of them are afraid to take a shower because they only have 90 seconds to get to a shelter , “Corber told CBC News.

Looking from afar, he says, “It’s a mixture of sadness and irritation.”

Speaking before his congregation, Corber says he is trying to emphasize a message of common humanity.

“What I have told my community is that I am holding space in my heart for the suffering and grief that is being experienced in Israel,” he said. “And I have affirmed to my congregation that while criticism of Israel is necessary … criticism of Israel in itself is not equal to anti-Semitism.”

Joshua Corber, an elderly rabbi at Beit Rayim Synagogue and School in Richmond Hill, Ont., Has been speaking to his congregation about the theme of a common humanity. (CBC)

“One can feel empathy and compassion for the grief and suffering of the Palestinians, and that does not diminish our love and support for our friends in Israel.”

‘Like the walls are sinking’

Israeli-Canadian Lia Tarachanskyhas spent the last few days watching the news and sending incessant messages to family and friends in the region, some Israelis, some Palestinians.

“How can this not be stopped? … How is it still going on? That rage, that fear that is being done in our name. I think that is the feeling,” Tarachansky told CBC News. “That’s what I’m listening to on the phone.”

“I know from talking to family and friends … that it feels like the walls are digging inside,” she said.

It is a sentiment that Tarachansky says is driven not only by Israel’s actions in Gaza from Hamasit rocket fire in various parts of Israel, but also by racist sentiments among some in Israel, which she says other politicians have allowing tofester to the point that they have gained legitimacy.

Lia Tarachansky, an Israeli-Canadian journalist and documentary filmmaker, grew up in Israel and spent most of her professional life there. Seeing the violence taking place in the region from the outside, she says it is ‘a special kind of torture’. (CBC)

Indeed, the ugly clashes have broken out Jewish and Arab Israelis, especially in the central city of Lod, despite the state of emergency and the night siege. At nearby Bat Yam on Wednesday, Jewish nationalists attacked an Arab motorist, pulled him out of his car and beat him, leaving him unconscious and severely injured.

But often lacking in media portrayal of the situation, she says, is a “predominant” feeling in Israel, coming not only from activists and those in solidarity with the Palestinians, but from ordinary people, scholars, academics and even some police, saying they want to see the end of the split.

‘I refuse to be an enemy’

“It is incredible to see how people are able to keep their humanity in the midst of this folly,” she said.

“And say, ‘No, I refuse to be an enemy. I refuse to get into the little box someone else has created for me and stay there. “I see there are people on the other side and I will do everything I can so that our children do not sit in the bomb shelters and are not afraid of the sky.”

The Canadian government has called for an “immediate de-escalation of tensions and an end to violence.” The “indiscriminate” burst of rocket attacks by Hamas is “absolutely unacceptable,” she says.

The statement also said Canada was “deeply concerned” by the violence in Jerusalem, including in and around al-Aqsa, and “deeply concerned” by the expansion of settlements, demolition and evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.

Azraq says she is irritated that Canadians only seem to pay attention when scenes of violence erupt in the region, saying not enough has been done to push the force when those images do not fill the screens.

She and Tarachanskysay want to see Canada stop arms sales to Israel a request made by New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh on Thursday, amid escalating violence.

“You can not support peace on both sides when you are arming and training, and supporting and financing one side of the conflict,” Tarachansky said.

For his part, Rabbi Corbersays as someone who has lived in Israel, he believes it is vital for Canadians to remember kindness in both Israel and Palestine.

“It’s just important to remember that everyone is human.”

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