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An Edmonton woman from Gaza says she feels “traumatized by what’s happening” while watching what she says her family is facing amid three weeks of airstrikes, which are in retaliation for the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Ghada Ageel Hamdan moved to Alberta’s capital a dozen years ago but is originally from Khan Younis in Gaza. She is now a lecturer at the University of Alberta’s political science department and has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies in the past.
Most of Hamdan’s family members still live in the Palestinian territory and she recently learned her family home was destroyed as a result of the ongoing violence, prompting her call for a ceasefire.
“(It) is the only way for peace … a lasting peace … for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Hamdan told Global News on Sunday.
“Force and more force prove that it’s not working.”
The Oct. 7 attack carried out by Hamas militants and the ensuing military response from Israel has resulted in a staggering death toll, as well as a growing humanitarian crisis.
“Everything I held dear is gone — my memories, my photo albums, all of my certificates that I earned … my books, the pictures of my kids’ first step,” Hamdan said, adding that most of her family has been displaced as airstrikes continue in the region.
On Thursday, in Khan Younis, The Associated Press reported that airstrikes destroyed more than half a dozen homes belonging to an extended family, killing at least 15 people.
“I am traumatized by what is happening, by the pictures we are seeing every day,” Hamdan said.
Hamdan has previously spoken out about her own experiences in Gaza, including sharp criticisms of Israeli policies and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Her concerns are echoed by Muhannad Ayyash, a sociologist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, who has closely studied violence in Palestinian territories.
“Palestinians are in deep mourning and in deep pain at this moment,” he told Global News. “(We) fear that worse violence is still yet to come.”
As of Thursday, the Israeli government said 1,400 people in Israel are now confirmed dead as a result of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. Health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza said Thursday that over 7,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the ensuing violence.
In an interview with Global News earlier this month, Stacey Leavitt-Wright, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, said she wants Canadians to “bear witness to the stories and the barbarism” and to condemn terrorism.
She also said she is concerned when she sees “a false moral equivalency” between “Israel’s right to defend itself against the actions, and the actions themselves.”
In addition to the violence in the Middle East, both Muslim and Jewish community groups have told Global News (HYPERLINK: <https://globalnews.ca/news/10035853/israel-hamas-conflict-islamophobia-antisemitism-canada/> ) that incidents of verbal abuse, vandalism, hate and intimidation targeting Canadians across the country have spiked since the renewed conflict.
Israel vowed to impose a “complete siege” on Gaza after the Hamas attack, and calls are growing for a “humanitarian pause” to let in aid for civilians from leaders in Europe, the U.S. and Canada over the past week, though they have not called for a formal ceasefire.
A number of Arab leaders made a joint plea Thursday for a ceasefire and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.
Since the violence escalated earlier this month, Israel has pounded Gaza with airstrikes while Palestinian militants have fired thousands of rockets into Israel. The Israeli military has said its airstrikes only target militants and has accused Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist entity by Canadian government, of trying to protect its fighters by having them operate among civilians.
–With files from The Associated Press’ Najib Jobain, Kareem Chehayeb and Amy Teibel
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