Vancouver Palestinians, human rights activists and social justice groups will gather to respond to and protest Israel’s attacks on Gaza and threats of a ground war.

WHEN: Thursday, November 15, 2012; 5:00 pm

WHERE: Vancouver Art Gallery (Robson Side), Robson and Hornby Streets, Vancouver

WHO: Palestine solidarity and human rights groups, including: Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid – Vancouver, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Canada Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet, Siraat, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) – UBC, Canadian Peace Alliance, Arab Students Association – UBC, Code Pink Women For Peace, Canadian Muslim Union, StopWar, Colour Connected Against War (UBC).

In the past four days, Israel has launched a major escalation of violence (titled “Operation Pillar Cloud”) against Palestinians in Gaza. Nearly four years after the devastating Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces are declaring their plans for a “ground invasion” of Gaza while engaging in massive bombing raids. More than 16 people have been confirmed dead, including Ranan Arafat, a 4 year old girl, and over 90 injured. Israel extrajudicially assassinated Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari Wednesday morning and the bombs keep dropping as Israel announces it is calling up its military reserves.

“We must expose the killing that is taking place in Gaza,” said Omar Shaban of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – UBC, one of the organizations calling for the protest. “Israeli warplanes are devastating Palestinians in Gaza once more – who have lived under siege for over 5 years, under occupation for over 45 years, and many as refugees for nearly 65 years. Homes and lives are being destroyed. In the meantime, the Canadian government is praising this deadly assault on the Palestinian civilian population. This is unacceptable and must stop immediately,” said Shaban.

Amal Rana of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid – Vancouver said that “silence about the killing taking place in Gaza cannot continue. Mainstream media, like the CBC, have marginalized Palestinian suffering and death and portrayed Israel, a massive military power, as a victim. As people at the grassroots, we need to take action – by protesting but also by engaging in boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, as Palestinian civil society has urged, until its violations end.”

“John Baird’s comments on Gaza are appalling,” said Khaled Barakat, Palestinian community activist. “While Palestinians are suffering under massive Israeli military strikes and a ground invasion is threatened, he speaks of ‘terrorists’ and ‘threats to security.’ The real threat to people’s security is Israel’s ongoing attacks on Palestinians’ homes, lives, and security.”