Hundreds marched through the streets of St. John's, expressing support for Palestinians. (William Ping/CBC News)
Around 800 people marched through the streets of downtown St. John's on Saturday to show their support for Palestinians during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The rally was part of a national day of action and coincided with protests in more than 20 other Canadian cities and hundreds of others being held across the world.
Organizer Elise Thorburn said the march is focused around three demands.
"An immediate ceasefire and end to the genocidal bombing campaign on Gaza," said Thorburn, explaining the demands.
"Lifting the siege on Gaza to allow for urgent medical aid and relief efforts, and an end to Canada's complicity in Israel's war crimes, genocide and colonization of Palestinian land."
Reem Abu-hendi, left, and Elise Thorburn were organizers of Saturday's march. (William Ping/CBC News)
Reem Abu-hendi, another organizer, said it's important to have these protests take place in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"It's part of our solidarity with Palestinians that are in Gaza, and we have a lot of Palestinian population here as well," Abu-Hendi said. "So it's our duty to help them."
Protestors marching down Water Street in St. John's. (William Ping/CBC News)
The event began with a number of speeches in Harbourside Park, followed by a march down Water Street. The protestors then gathered outside St. John's City Hall for more speeches and continued to march down Duckworth Street.
One of the speakers was Zaid Kay, who was born in Newfoundland but is of Palestinian descent.
Along the route of the march, people with loudspeakers encouraged the crowd to chant slogans like 'Free Palestine.' (William Ping/CBC News)
"My dream is to explore the olive groves of my ancestors, to watch the sunrise over the Dead Sea, to walk with my father through the home he was expelled from in 1967," Kay said.
"My dream is a secular, democratic, multicultural, binational state from the river to the sea where all people live in freedom and equality, no matter their race or religion. My dream is a free Palestine."
Speaking afterwards, Kay said people should be focusing on human rights.
After a series of speeches outside St. John's City Hall, protestors then continued to march up Duckworth Street. (William Ping/CBC News)
"People should be coming together right now and acknowledging that what we're seeing is not right," Kay said. "As a matter of humanity, we have a duty to speak up. And I think if we don't, then our children will never forgive us and we'll live to regret it."
"We hear so much about the right of Israel to exist and to defend itself, which I don't dispute, but I wish there would be more discussion of Palestine's right to exist and defend itself," Kay said.
The protest attracted a wide demographic of St. John's residents, all gathered to show their support for Palestinians. (William Ping/CBC News)
Saturday's protest was the latest one in St. John's in a string of weekly events since the latest Israel-Hamas war began on Oct 7. At that time, Hamas killed around 1,400 people. Since then, Israel has launched attacks on Gaza with nearly 9,500 Palestinians having been killed by Saturday, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.
Despite the heavy emotions surrounding the protest, Thorburn was impressed with the attendance for the event on Saturday.
The protestors returned to Harbourside Park at the end of their march. (William Ping/CBC News)
"This is a historic day for us here in Newfoundland and all across Canada," she said. "These are probably the biggest mass anti-war protests that have taken place in support of Palestine ever in North American history."
"The support is growing," Thorburn said.
"We want peace. We want an end to this violence. We want a ceasefire now."