On May 15, 2021 thousands answered the call of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) and gathered at Nathan Philip Square in Toronto to commemorate “the 73rd year of the Palestinian catastrophe” – the Nakbah. The annual event is generally commemorated on 15 May, the day after the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel in its place.
A counter protest of a small group of Israel supporters was dwarfed by the Palestinian side that gradually moved in on them. The police stepped in, created a gap in the crowd to lead the Israeli group to safety at an area close to the US consulate. As they attempted to disperse, they were attacked by pro Palestine activists. Multiple people were treated for injuries, and it was reported, but not yet confirmed, that one young woman was sexually assaulted. One pro Palestinian activist was arrested by the Police.
A female pro Israel supporter said, “they threw rocks, water bottles and glass bottles at us. The police were escorting us to the parking lot where our car was. At the parking lot I saw an elderly Jewish guy getting jumped. They pulled his hair and as he turned around they jumped. They beat him with sticks. Then I yelled at them and one of them kicked me while another grabbed my breasts and made kissy noises. Then he ran off.”
Another pro Israel supporter wrote on Facebook: “for anyone who cant reach me, i lost my phone in the melee at Nathan Philip. I got attacked by angry mob. luckily made it out alive, just broken finger and bumps and bruises. Some got it much worse. I hope most of our peeps made it out safely.”
Speakers at the protests led the crowd in chanting “Viva Intifada,” “We will sacrifice our soul and blood for Al-Aqsa [Mosque]” and “From the [Jordan [River] to the [Mediterranean] Sea Palestine will be free.” Protesters waved the flags of Palestine, Iran, Fatah movement among others and held signs that read:
Zionism in akin to Nazism
Israel is a punk
One genocide doesn’t justify another
End the occupation, support the intifada
Resistance remains until liberation
From the [Jordan [River] to the [Mediterranean] Sea Palestine will be free
Victory to the intifada