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Island politicians join province-wide call for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas War

The open letter is signed by about 50 B.C. officials, including councillors, mayors and regional district directors

About a dozen municipal councillors across Vancouver Island have signed a letter asking the federal government to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Signed by about 50 B.C. officials, including councillors, mayors and regional district directors, the open letter calls on Canada to join the “growing national and international community and demand for an immediate ceasefire, release of all hostages, and a just peace for all.”

The letter signers say they condemn “all acts of antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia in our communities, which have risen since the escalation of violence this past month, and will work to ensure our communities are just, safe and welcoming for all.”

The letter comes after Burnaby city council unanimously called for a ceasefire in Gaza at a meeting last week at the request of Coun. Daniel Tetrault, who is Jewish.

Victoria Coun. Susan Kim, who signed the letter, said her inbox is filled with messages from people who are “rightly” urging politicians to call for a ceasefire. “Part of it is being responsive to the demands of the constituents I serve and represent.”

Kim wore a keffiyeh scarf — which she has worn regularly over the past several years — to a Victoria city council meeting last week, partly as a nod toward Palestinian Victorians.

“I want them to know that their experience is validated,” she said. “If anyone from the Jewish community who’s also impacted deeply by this felt like there was something that they wanted to share for me to show solidarity, I’d be happy to [as well].”

Comox Coun. Jonathan Kerr, who also signed the letter, said many local politicians in B.C. wanted to add their voices to the statement from Burnaby council.

“One of my roles in the community is really to take a leadership stance on human-rights issues,” Kerr said. “It’s important that we ensure that we stand up against antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia in our own communities and around the world.”

Kerr said he’s hoping to discuss at today’s council meeting the possibility for Comox to issue an official statement on the matter. Comox Mayor Nicole Minions also signed the letter.

In the Capital Regional District, the letter was signed by Saanich Coun. Zac de Vries, Langford Coun. Colby Harder and Central Saanich Coun. Sarah Riddell.

Nanaimo councillors who signed include Hilary Eastmure, Ben Geselbracht and Paul Manly.

More than two-thirds of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have fled from or lost their homes since the war began, and more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed.

In Israel,1,200 have died and about 240 hostages were taken into Gaza by Palestinian militants.

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