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Local Palestinians, allies to hold car rally for Nakba 73 (update)

The rally will be taking place on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., starting at Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School, Conestoga Mall and at the Marshall's/Homesense parking lot at 655 Fairway Road in Kitchener.

Palestinians and allies in Waterloo Region will be coming together to acknowledge the violence currently being endured by people in Palestine.

Organizers are holding a car rally on Saturday. They will begin the rally 5 p.m. at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School.

Originally, participants planned to gather near the Victoria Park Clock Tower -- but the plans were slightly adjusted on Friday to only include a car rally after organizers received a warning email from WRPS. The email from regional police warned organizers that they will be in violation of the current stay at home order if they gathered near the clock tower.

During a car rally on Saturday, organisers are hoping to raise awareness about the Palestinian Nakba and the ongoing violence in Sheikh Jarrah, a residential neighborhood within Palestinian territory which is currently a war zone. The conflict is directly affecting the families of Palestinians living in Waterloo Region.

Rally spokesperson Hiba ElMiari says the word "nakba" means catastrophe -- and the yearly anniversary marks a grim moment in Palestinian history.

"It commemorates the 1948 war that happened when Palestinians were kicked out of their homes and basically when Palestinians [faced] genocide. Palestinians died and they were kicked out of their home. Ever since 1948, Palestinians have not been able to return to their homes."

She added this is the 73rd year marking the ongoing destruction of Palestinian homes, culture and people.

"The state of Israel has been forcing Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian authority. So under international law, Israel has no jurisdiction in East Jerusalem. Yet the Israeli court is ruling Palestinians in East Jerusalem to give their homes, especially in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood."

ElMiari said it is important to note that this "nakba" not just history for Palestine -- it is their reality.

"Because of what is happening in Al Aqsa and because of what's happening in Sheikh Jarrah and because of the ethnic cleansing that the Sheikh Jarrah families and neighborhood are facing, Gaza retaliated. Israel entered back by bombarding -- by bombing Gaza nonstop, which caused ... Palestinians to be killed."

She said she has organized the rally to build local community support for Palestinians who are being directly affected by the conflict back home.

"We need to get Palestinians and Arabs and people who stand against racism and colonization to stand together and provide support and provide care for one another. It's also to educate people, to provide people with resources about what they can do, about what Nakba is and about what is happening right now in Jerusalem and in the occupied land and in Gaza."

People who would like to participate can also choose to attend the rally virtually by watching the Nakba 74 livestream on Facebook.

Organizers have also compiled a list of resources to help inform people who would like to learn more about what is happening in Palestine.

Participants are required to wear a mask, remain socially distant and regularly clean their hands. If you are experiencing symptoms, you are required to stay home.

The event will be taking place on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The rally will begin at three separate locations -- Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School, Conestoga Mall and at the Marshall's/Homesense parking lot at 655 Fairway Road in Kitchener. Cars from all three locations will then follow organizers to Victoria Park, which is the end point of the rally.

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