University of Regina students protest for Palestine

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Two rows of protestors for Palestine line either side of a hallway. 
It’s sad but it's true – our leaders would rather be inconvenienced for an entire half hour than answer our questions and concerns. Valerie Zink

URegina SJP protest blocked Ahmed Hussen’s exit for up to 30 minutes

Gaza is actively being destroyed. All hopes of going back to anything even close to a normal life amongst survivors are fading as they search for scraps. Scraps of bodies of family, friends, children, relatives, and the people they loved. The futures of a handful of surviving children who are growing up with unimaginable trauma, fear, and mistrust is being destroyed.  

More than 28,000 people have been killed and 67,700 people have been injured in Gaza according to the Palestinian Health Ministry as published by NBC. Around 7,000 people are missing; children make up 70 per cent of that number. 12,000 children have been killed.  

The fate of the survivors is just as gruesome, if not more so. Surgeries and amputations are being performed without anesthesia as doctors struggle to find even astringents to keep the wounds uninfected.  

About 1.4 million of the remaining population has been pushed to the last remaining safe strip of Rafah, which is Israel’s next target and is supposedly essential to “wipe out Hamas” as Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel claims. 

Israel’s quest to wipe out Hamas has come with a price – a mass civil and humanitarian crisis.  

Some see Israel’s right to defend itself as more important than the right that civilians in Gaza have to live. 

This genocide continues as representatives choose to suspend financial support to Gaza, continue military support to Israel, and remain mute when asked questions and demanded to show and ask for responsibility. 

 On Thursday, Feb 8, 20 Palestine solidarity protesters confronted federal Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen outside a meet and greet with Global Affairs Canada on the College Avenue Campus of the University of Regina. 

“We all decided that this was the right thing to do and we’re not going to let business as usual continue when our leaders aren’t really taking things seriously,” University of Regina student Sarah Sattar said in an interview on Friday.  

In a video posted on the University of Regina Students for Justice in Palestine’s (URegina SJP) Instagram page, protestors can be heard calling “free Palestine,” “stop Canadian complicities in starvation,” and “stop complicity in genocide,” as they followed Hussen out of the building and to his car.  

Hussen was escorted by campus security as he attempted to leave after cancelling the event. The protestors proceeded to surround the car, continuing to call for justice in Palestine.  

The group also called for the “restoration of humanitarian aid funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and an end to diplomatic and economic ties with Israel.” 

According to a URegina SJP social media post, Hussen’s vehicle was blocked for 30 minutes.  

“We will not sit back and allow our government to actively support an apartheid state that is ethnically cleansing an entire people,” Sattar said in the release.  

“The moral collapse of Hussen and other federal leaders in the face of violence that we haven’t seen in generations is unbearable. We will continue to confront them at every opportunity, alongside many others across the country.” 

Regina police were ultimately called in, and officers worked with the group, who then moved to the side and allowed the vehicle to pass and exit the parking lot. No arrests were made and the crowd dispersed shortly after. 

A suspension of funding to UNRWA has made situations even more grim for survivors in Gaza. After Israel’s allegation that some of the staff members of the UNRWA for Palestine Refugees in the Near East were involved in the Oct 7 attacks, Canada and The United States suspended additional funding to the agency until the allegations have been investigated.  

UNRWA supports Palestinians in Gaza and employs about 13,000 people there, as well as another 17,000 in Palestinian refugee camps.  

CTV News reported that the director of the UNRWA claimed to have terminated the suspected staff, but warned on Monday that it won’t be able to continue operations beyond February if support is not restored.  

Although the next dispatch of funds to UNRWA is not due until late March of 2024, the conflict does not show signs of ending, and without financial support to agencies supporting the survivors, the situations are bound to worsen. 

At the same time, the Canadian Federal government authorized at least $28.5 million in permits for military exports to Israel during the first two months of the state’s brutal war on Gaza according to data supplied to The Maple by Global Affairs Canada. The total value of the new permits authorized over a two-month period exceeds what was a 30-year annual record high in 2021 – $26 million in Canadian military exports to Israel. 

The International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling for South Africa’s case against Israel on Jan 26, 2024, called for Israel to take “all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of the Genocide Convention” but stopped short of ordering a cease-fire.  

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, has stated that she and her family have been receiving threats in the aftermath of this ruling.  

15 days after ICJ’s ruling, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor asserted that the Israeli army has maintained its rate of killing civilians, depriving them of their most basic human rights, besieging them, and starving them. 

Eyes are on Rafah as more than one million Palestinians are residing in the area under makeshift shelters and Israel confirmed on Feb 11 that it conducted air strikes in the area. 

 The people of Palestine are being silenced every passing second, as such, raised voices and protests such as URegina SJP’s on Feb 8 are critical.  

From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free. 

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