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Vancouver police activate command centre after Hamas calls for ‘day of rage’

‘My community is really hurt and the day of wrath doesn’t help anything,’ says BC Jewish leader

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Vancouver police are taking extra measures to protect Jewish places of worship and community centers after Khaled Mashal, a Qatar-based Hamas leader, called for a global “day of rage” on Friday.

While there have been no specific threats to any location in Vancouver, Police Chief Adam Palmer said the VPD has activated its departmental operations centre, which incorporates specialized resources, and a higher command center to coordinate security around gatherings. and other activities.

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And the department maintains its police presence outside synagogues and community centers.

“We don’t see an increased threat level at this time,” said Ezra Shanken, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver.

He said local celebrations among Hamas supporters following the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, which killed 1,200 people, were disconcerting but should not drive the conversation.

“This is a time of incredible fear, sadness, pain and resolution,” Shanken said. “People are very scared right now and fear for their children. My community is really hurt and the day of rage doesn’t help anything.

“I consider myself pro-Palestinian, I want to see two states, I want to see security for the Palestinian people,” Shanken said. “But what Hamas has done goes beyond what is acceptable and he has made it no longer a viable partner in the dialogue.”

Vancouver police at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue on Monday.
Vancouver police at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue on Monday. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Hamas is listed as a terrorist group in Canada. He rejects a two-state proposal and advocates genocide in his letter.

Ula, a Vancouver mother of two Jewish high school students, said she has been deeply concerned for her children’s safety since the attacks. (She did not want to use her last name to protect her privacy.)

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“It is really difficult. My grandparents’ family died in the Holocaust, we grew up with that trauma. I never thought it was something our children would go through. As a father, I am very afraid.”

While Jewish schools receive additional protection from police, Ula worries that Jewish children in public schools may be especially vulnerable. “No one has been warned of any precautions or any protective measures.”

Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, the father of three teenagers, one of whom attends a secular public school, said he regularly talks to his own children about how to be aware of the situation.

“People from marginalized groups, including Jews, have conversations with their children that other people don’t have. We have long had conversations with our children about being proud to be Jewish, but we talk to our children about being aware. “It is not news to them that there are people in the world who want to harm Jews.”

Being proud of your Judaism, going to synagogue, living a Jewish life from one generation to the next is resistance, Moskovitz said. “We are going to continue doing that. “We are not going to take down our mezuzah, we are not going to change what we do and we will be in synagogue on Shabbat.”

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Haroon Kahn, administrator of the Al Jamia Masjid mosque, said that instead of a day of anger on Friday, it will be a day of prayer at his mosque.

“We categorically condemn any attack against civilians, no matter who commits it,” Kahn said.

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Palestinian supporters demonstrate at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver on October 9, 2023. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Dominic LeBlanc, Canada’s public safety minister, issued a statement Thursday saying, “Canada stands in solidarity with Jewish communities across the country who feel especially vulnerable in the face of the Hamas-led call for mobilization around the world.

“There is no place – and there will never be a place – for the glorification of violence or terror, here in Canada or around the world. In no case will it be tolerated.”

Mike Farnworth, British Columbia’s public safety minister, said the province supports families and friends experiencing an “unimaginable loss of loved ones in Israel” and asked British Columbians to “stay united.”

dryan@postmedia.com

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