Pro-Palestinian protestors are pictured here marching down Water Street in St. John's. (William Ping/ CBC News)
In what has become a weekly occurrence, hundreds of people in St. John's gathered in support of Palestinians and to call for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. However, this weekend's protest coincided with one of the busiest shopping days of the year, the annual downtown St. John's Tax Free Day.
Reem Abu-Hendi was one of the speakers at the march. She said it was great to have so many more people downtown to witness the protestors' calls.
"We're raising awareness about what's happening in Palestine and hopefully more people join us in the next marches," said Abu-Hendi.
"This is not a religious conflict, we're all here in solidarity with humanity.… There is over 11,000 people who are dead, and that's why we're here."
Reem Abu-Hendi is pictured here addressing the crowd at Harbourside Park. Beside her on the ground is a list of names of 10,000 Palestinians who have been killed since Oct. 7th. (William Ping/CBC News)
The latest Israel-Hamas war began in October, following an attack by Hamas militants that the Israeli government says killed 1,200 people, with 240 more taken hostage. Since then, the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza says 12,300 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces as of Saturday.
As well, more than 1.6 million Gazans have been displaced from their homes, according to the United Nations.
Saturday's march through downtown St. John's began with speeches at Harbourside Park. Around 350 people then marched down Water Street with a stop at St. John's City Hall, before returning to Harbourside Park.
Ben Kennedy is pictured here chanting during the march. (William Ping/ CBC News)
Ben Kennedy was one of the people who spoke outside city hall.
"I grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community," said Kennedy. "And I felt it was really important to speak up and expose Zionist logic which tries to justify this genocide."
During his speech, Kennedy spoke of a fear of backlash for standing with Palestine. Speaking afterwards, Kennedy explained that he feels it is a moral duty to stand up for the people in Gaza.
"It's a risk that we have to take to ensure the future freedom for kids," he said.
Though the streets of downtown St. John's were filled with holiday shoppers, protestors stopped traffic to ensure their message was heard. (William Ping/ CBC News)
Kennedy said while many have framed the conflict as one centred around religion, the situation is more nuanced than that.
"It's the political forces in charge that attempt to make us divided, but really we're not, we're the same," Kennedy said, in reference to Jewish and Muslim people. "All Semites come from the same land."
Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of St. John's on Saturday, calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. (William Ping/CBC News)
Another protester was Zaid Kay, a St. John's resident of Palestinian descent.
"We're here standing up for human rights for the sixth week in a row," said Kay.
"I really wish we didn't have to be here again. I really wish that we had a ceasefire. I really wish that people could live in peace. But we're back, because we've got to keep standing up."
Kay said it's been great to see so many people in Newfoundland support the cause every week.
"The community is so supportive and so many people are willing to actually take a stand and come out for human rights," he said.
During the protest, many businesses in downtown St. John's had lines of holiday shoppers outside their doors. (William Ping/ CBC News)
The march through downtown St. John's during a holiday shopping event meant that many shoppers were forced to stop and listen to the protestors, with some even joining the march along the way.
"It's a weird contrast of the privilege that we have here in Canada," Kay said. "Our comfort and our safety juxtaposed with what we're seeing on TV, where human life is just rendered completely worthless."
"There's just so much, if not indifference, then active hostility to Palestinian lives, which is disheartening," Kay said. "But when you come to events like this and you see the level of support it gets, it does give you hope and it does give you comfort."