Hamas militants unleash barrage of rockets on Israeli towns, leading to increased security measures in Ottawa.
OTTAWA – The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has stepped up patrols around synagogues and mosques in response to the surprise Hamas rocket attack on Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip this past Saturday. The move aims to safeguard local communities and religious institutions in the wake of the deadly international incident.
A Violent Surprise in the Middle East
Hamas militants took Israel by surprise early Saturday, launching hundreds of rockets and sending gunmen into multiple locations outside the Gaza Strip. Israeli media sources and national rescue services report the death toll in the hundreds, marking this as the deadliest attack in decades. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared the nation “at war” and responded with airstrikes into Palestinian territories.
International Repercussions and Ottawa’s Response
“We are witnessing one of the most horrendous, murderous terrorist attacks,” commented Israeli ambassador-designate to Canada, Iddo Moed. Many local residents with ties to Israel, such as Jessica Cohn, expressed deep concern for their family in the affected regions. “This is a different war,” she voiced, describing the profound impact on their day-to-day lives.
Ottawa’s heightened security measures reflect the shared sentiment of the city’s authorities. “Today’s attack on Israel has an impact on our own community in Ottawa,” OPS stated on X, a social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Their assurance to the community emphasized zero tolerance towards hate crimes and their commitment to full investigations.
Today's attack on Israel has an impact on our own community in Ottawa. We have increased police presence in areas of religious significance including synagogues and mosques.
We are also reaching out to community partners to ensure they know we are here to support them.
— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) October 7, 2023
Political Leaders Unite in Condemnation
Canadian political leaders have been vocal in their denouncement of the attacks. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unequivocally condemned Hamas’ actions, asserting, “Canada strongly condemns the current terrorist attacks against Israel. These acts of violence are completely unacceptable. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself.”
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and Ottawa South Liberal MPP John Fraser joined in the condemnation, both highlighting the tragic impact on innocent civilians. Other local politicians, like Nepean Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod and Ottawa Centre NDP MPP Joel Harden, expressed their concerns and sympathy through various social media platforms, emphasizing peace and dialogue over violence.
Mayor Mark Sutcliffe also lent his voice to the chorus of support for the Jewish community, meeting with local Jewish leaders and expressing Ottawa’s solidarity.
The Local Perspective
According to OPS data, Ottawa has already witnessed 221 reported hate-motivated incidents this year, with Jewish residents being the most commonly targeted demographic. The recent international incident underscores the need for vigilance and community support, even miles away from the epicenter of the conflict.
Outside religious institutions like the Soloway Jewish Community Centre, the atmosphere is a mix of concern and determination. As Richard Marceau, from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, expressed relief at his son’s safety in Israel, he also emphasized the wider community’s commitment to vigilance and unity.