We, as members of the Palestinian community in Montreal, are worried about the plight of the people in the Gaza strip who are currently under siege. The Israeli government by cutting off electricity, fuel and humanitarian assistance to the population of Gaza is creating a crisis of outrageous proportions.Even organisations like Amnesty International, Oxfam and Human Rights Watch are condemning the actions of the Israeli government as a form of collective punishment on the people of Gaza.

While we can only stand by and watch from a distance the cruelty and injustices of the Israeli regime, we are calling on the Canadian government to immediately intervene and put an end to the brutal attacks on the rights of Palestinian people to live in peace, dignity and freedom.

Canada and other states which attended the Annapolis conference are under both a legal and a moral obligation to compel Israel to cease its actions against Gaza and to restore confidence in the peace process, ensure respect for international law and protect civilian life.

By turning a blind eye on the illegal actions of the Israeli government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is showing contempt to the Palestinian community both in the Middle East and here in Canada.

His lack of action creates a dangerous double standard where the occupier, the Israeli regime, is rewarded and encouraged to act with impunity and the occupied Palestinians are punished and given the unfair duty to ensure the safety of the occupier.

While we deplore all forms of violence against civilians anywhere, we find it unacceptable to collectively punish civilians for the actions of a few. For example, it would be unthinkable, here in Montreal that if a group of individuals took over city hall in protest of some policy, the response by the authorities would be to close down all essential supplies to Montreal in order to punish the perpetrators. That is exactly what the Israeli government is doing.

Israel, Canada and the world has a duty under the 4th Geneva Convention and the Declaration of Human Rights to ensure the safety and the well-being of civilian populations.

Many of us here have family members in the Occupied Territories that are directly affected by the international community’s lack of action. It is a situation of the highest urgency and Canada should take a leading stance in ensuring the safety of civilian populations in Gaza.

We as Canadians must send a strong message to the people of the Occupied Territories and the World that such behaviour on behalf of a rogue state like Israel will not be tolerated anymore. We must consider all forms of human rights violations from the same lens, no exceptions and no special treatment, not even for the Israeli government.

Today, we will be marching in solidarity with the people of the Occupied Territories to show our support while they are far away, they are not forgotten. Never will we sit still and watch while injustices are being committed anywhere.