Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Local rally shows support for Israel

Politicians among crowd backing nation amid conflict

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An Israel supporter places a flag over Palestinian supporters who were taking part in a 'die-in'as about 100 people gather for a pro-Israel rally in downtown Winnipeg Monday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

An Israel supporter places a flag over Palestinian supporters who were taking part in a 'die-in'as about 100 people gather for a pro-Israel rally in downtown Winnipeg Monday. Photo Store

About 600 people showed up at a rally in support of Israel at the Asper Jewish Community Campus Monday evening.

The crowd was a sea of white and blue, as many of the attendees came draped in or waving Israeli flags. They were there to support Israel in the latest conflict in the country between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

Israel has been leading a ground offensive in Gaza, looking to weaken Hamas, while Hamas is pushing back.

Sergei Didenko was one of the student organizers of an earlier rally Monday for Israel held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. He said he wanted people in Winnipeg to see the support for Israel that exists in the city.

"There's a lot of Canadians, non-Jewish or Israeli guys that (came to the rally) with us," Didenko said,

Didenko lived in Israel for 10 years.

"I saw how the things are there. As far as the world can see, we're helping as much as we can, and Hamas are controlling their people to attack Israel," he said.

Didenko said he believes if Hamas was stopped, the fighting would stop.

The event was attended by several politicians, including federal Heritage Minister Shelly Glover, River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow, Norway House Cree Nation Chief Ron Evans and Provencher MP Ted Falk.

Evans recounted a visit to Israel he made in 2011 and thanked a dozen or so members of First Nations communities who had come out to the rally, who were also waving Israeli flags.

Evans said he wanted to send a number of youths from Norway House to Israel over the next few years to give them an experience they couldn't get anywhere else.

Falk also recently visited Israel as part of a delegation with other MPs as guests of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and witnessed the sirens that warn citizens of imminent rocket attacks. He described the "Iron Dome" defence system in place in Israel, where missiles intercept enemy rockets before they can hit targets.

"Hamas uses people to protect their weapons, while Israel uses weapons to protect its people," Falk said to loud cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Falk expressed sympathy for victims on both sides of the conflict, saying deaths on either side are not desirable.

"Whether you're Jewish or Palestinian, it's a horrible feeling to be under attack," he said.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 22, 2014 A6

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Updated on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 8:02 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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