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Israeli & Palestinian supporters voice concerns at Toronto rallies

The conflict in the Gaza Strip prompted a second day of protests in downtown Toronto.

Hundreds of pro-Israeli supporters gathered on the front lawn of Queen’s Park on Sunday afternoon for a “freedom and democracy” rally, which was held by a group called Canadians for Israel.

While some carried and waved Canadian and Israeli flags, others carried signs that read “Peace in the Middle East” and “Hamas: Stop the Terrorism.” Many people also raised their voices in song.

One of the speakers included Mark Mark Vandermaas, founder of Israel Truth Week, who said he came to “show support to the Jewish people.”

“I think the other thing is we really have to address the underlining issue and this false narrative of occupation,” he said.

Pro-Palestinian supporters also took part in a demonstration north of Queen’s Park at Huron-Washington Parkette, near Bloor Street West and Spadina Avenue. They then made their way to the Israeli Consulate on Bloor, near Avenue Road.

At the park event, organizers wanted to show how children in Toronto can play soccer in the park without fear of being bombed or shot at, unlike children in Gaza.

Some people hoisted silhouettes representing all of the children killed in Gaza.

“It’s time for Canadians to stand up for what Canada stands for, which is peace, human rights, safety and justice,” Sammy, a pro-Palestinian who is from Gaza, told CityNews.

Carrying a placard that read, “Free Palestine,” he said he has relatives there as well and worries about them every day.

The events come a day after thousands gathered at Queen’s Park for two protests.

Dozens of police officers were needed to keep Palestinian and Israeli supporters separate as they made their way down University Avenue to the U.S. consulate on Saturday.

Officials say over the past few weeks, hundreds have been killed in fighting between Hamas militants and Israeli soldiers on the Gaza Strip.

With files from Shauna Hunt and Fil Martino