On Saturday, in Vancouver, authorities positioned police officers outside Jewish places of worship, as members of the community came together for a Shabbat characterized by feelings of surprise and grief following the sudden escalation of violence in the Middle East.
Earlier in the day, a clash occurred between Israeli forces and militants from Gaza as Hamas, the governing authority in Palestine, executed several unexpected assaults in Israeli territory. By the end of the day, both parties confirmed over 200 casualties on each side.
The Vancouver Police Department informed CBC News that they are not aware of any particular danger to public safety in the area. However, as a precautionary measure, they will continue to have a noticeable presence at Jewish places of worship and community centers.
According to a rabbi in Vancouver, the action provided a sense of comfort.
Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, senior clergy at Temple Sholom, expressed that it was reassuring to see police officers present to ensure our safety and protect our places of worship, allowing us to pray without fear. However, he believes that such measures should not be required in an ideal world.
Mayor Ken Sim of Vancouver expressed his sympathy for those affected in a tweet, stating, “We stand in solidarity with all individuals who have been impacted.” David Eby, the Premier of the province, strongly condemned Hamas for the attack without any doubt.
Hamas gunmen stormed into into Israeli territory early Saturday morning, attacking as many as 22 locations outside the Palestinian enclave, which has been under blockade by Israel, killing and capturing civilians.
Israel responded by conducting a sequence of airstrikes on Gaza, resulting in the destruction of numerous residential structures. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that they were engaged in a “war” and pledged to impose an “unprecedented price.”
The national rescue service of Israel reported that the attack resulted in the death of at least 250 individuals and left 1,500 injured, marking it as the most lethal assault in Israel in many years. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, at least 232 individuals in the Gaza Strip have been killed and approximately 1,700 injured due to Israeli strikes.
Videos posted on social media showed harrowing scenes of Hamas fighters taking an undisclosed number of civilians and soldiers captive into Gaza, which is a highly sensitive matter for Israel.
Ezra Shanken, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, mentioned that he became aware of the attacks through a mobile application called “red alert.” This app specifically notifies Israeli citizens about rocket warnings.
“I realized at that moment that we were facing a situation that was fundamentally distinct from previous instances of conflict between Hamas and Israel,” he informed CBC News. “I sympathize with all those who are truly suffering on both sides of this conflict.”
“I have individuals within this community who are unable to locate their children, unable to locate their parents, and unable to locate missing persons at present.”
He states that assistance and therapy are being provided, and a financial resource has been established for victims and their loved ones.
Rabbi Moskovitz emphasized that regardless of the political aspects of the ongoing conflict, it is crucial to pray for peace and inner strength. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of spreading positivity and hope even in difficult times.
A demonstration in solidarity with Palestinians is scheduled to take place on Sunday at the intersection of Main and Prior streets.
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, a group advocating for Palestinians, expressed their sorrow over the loss of innocent lives.
The president of the group, Thomas Woodley, stated that Canada should urge all parties involved to enforce a ceasefire, which should also entail putting an abrupt stop to the harsh and ongoing violence caused by Israel’s military occupation.