Charges laid after two pro-Palestinian protests in Hamilton, Ont.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in from of Hamilton city hall on Friday, May 14, 2021. During the protests a youth from Quebec was charged with dangerous operations of a motor vehicle. (Credit: Courtesy of The Hamilton Spectator)

Hamilton police have charged a 17-year-old boy from Quebec after a violent incident at an anti-Israel rally in Hamilton, Ont., on Friday, May 14.

The youth has been charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle.

Police said in a news release the incident happened at a pro-Palestinian rally in front of city hall. No other details were provided, but police said the matter remains under investigation.

Police were on high alert around Jewish facilities on the weekend following that incident and a May 16 pro-Palestinian demonstration that drew an estimated 1,000 people.

Police and city bylaw officers laid 14 charges in that incident under provincial COVID control acts.

In a news release, police added that because of the large attendance at that event, they are continuing to review evidence and more charges may be possible.

The Friday incident occurred as the Hamilton community prepared for an online prayer rally that organizers hoped would ease the tension of a week in which Israel suffered from days of rocket attacks from Gaza and the community contended with media misinformation about the conflict.

The event was organized by the Hamilton Jewish Federation.

“This isn’t about money or our campaign or anything else,” Federation CEO Gustavo Rymberg said in an interview before the event. “It is a moment for us to be together and pray and feel better.”

Rymberg said the Jewish community has been especially troubled by the torrent of misinformation and lies being spread on social media, and a perceived lack of support from established media which appears to see the Mideast conflict only in terms of abuses of Palestinian human rights by Israel, while ignoring rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

“Something really terrible is happening on social media and that’s creating anxiety, confusion and fear in the community,” he said. “The media is not talking about the other 50 per cent of the story, and it’s important to tell both sides of this story.”

Rabbi Jordan Cohen of Temple Anshe Sholom said in an interview that a community event is especially important during the pandemic when people are being forced apart.

Such an effort, he added, is even more important “when there is so much gross misinformation circulating around about what is going on. Usually, I’m not as manifestly shocked at the media and their presentation of events, but the fact they are so getting it wrong this time is hard to accept.”

At the prayer event, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs CEO Shimon Fogel said the broader community has to learn the truth about ongoing periods of violence in the Middle East.

“This is not a cycle of violence that has no beginning or end,” he said. “This has a clear genesis in an Islamist effort to destroy Israel.

“We have to do what we can to ensure the narrative reflects a truthful view of what is happening, especially when some people are being seduced by the language of human rights abuses” he added.

Galit Baram, Israel’s consul-general based in Toronto, condemned the view that Israel is wantonly attacking Palestinian civilians.

“Attacking Israeli civilians by using Palestinian civilians as human shields is a war crime,” she said. “We have to be very clear about that.”

“No country in the world would tolerate these attacks,” she added. “Israel will not allow these hooligans to tear apart the tapestry of our society.”

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