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Winnipeg families fill sky with kites in solidarity with Gaza | CBC News

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Several dozen Winnipeggers took their children to St. Vital Park to fly kites in solidarity with Gaza on Sunday afternoon.

The day had added meaning for Bassam Hozaima, who was born in a Gaza refugee camp. Making kites was one of the few pastimes available to children growing up there, he said.

“It’s generation after generation. Palestinian children are born into it,” he said about conflict in the region.

“That’s not fair, because they have nothing to do with it and they’re affected by it, and when you see children in Gaza being killed and killed and maimed and raising their hands and losing their limbs — why?”

Sunday’s kite flight provided a space to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and demand action from the Canadian government, said Sara Warkentin, a member of Family Actions for Palestine, which organized the event.

A man stands and talks, looking to the right, in a glass-walled building with people in the background.
Bassam Hozaima, who was born in a Gaza refugee camp, says making kites was one of the few pastimes available to children growing up there. (Justin Fraser/CBC )

Kites are a symbol of play, freedom and togetherness around the world, Warkentin said.

They’re also a nod to the children of Gaza’s world record for most kites flown at once, set in 2011, with over 12,000 sent aloft over a northern beach in the territory.

A picture of an adult on her knees looking up, next to a young kid pointing at the sky.
A young child points to the sky during Sundays kite flight. (Justin Fraser/CBC )

Neil Exell, also part of Family Actions for Palestine, said the group was created so families and their kids could have spaces to take action in a way that feels accessible for them. 

“Part of the reason that we’re doing something like this is because a lot families don’t necessarily feel comfortable doing other types of direct action with their children,” he said.

“A protest where they’re blocking traffic and that sort of thing, people are very supportive of that, but might not want to involve young kids.”

A group of people inside a glass-walled shelter includes people at tables with kite supplies on them.
People assemble kites inside at the park before taking them to the sky. (Justin Fraser/CBC )

The current war started Oct. 7 when Hamas led an attack on Israel, killing over 1,200 people and taking nearly 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Hamas militants are believed to still be holding more than 100 hostages. 

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said Sunday that more than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began.

The ministry is part of the Hamas-run government and its figures from previous wars have largely matched those of the UN and independent.

The UN says a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are at risk of starvation because its borders are closed and it has become impossible to deliver needed aid.

Ramadan begins Monday, but talks for a ceasefire — which would have allowed the Muslim holy month to pass peacefully and enabled the return of some Israeli hostages — appear to have stalled.

A Hamas official told Reuters the group was open to more negotiations but, as far as he knew, no dates had been set for further meetings with mediators in Cairo.

At St. Vital Park, Hozaima said the holy month is about faith, and Gazans still believe the conflict will end one day.

“It’s a time to reflect and a time to renew your faith,” he said about Ramadan.

“The people of Gaza, they’re showing the world what faith is all about because they haven’t lost faith.

“You see them interviewed, like, people there who are directly affected by this, in Gaza or Rafah or Khan Younis — when you see them, you see nothing but just strength and dignity and pride.”

WATCH | Gazan doctors struggle to treat malnourished, dehydrated children:

Inside a Gaza hospital where doctors struggle to treat malnourished, dehydrated children

Dr. Bilal Al-Shafi’i, who works in Rafah in southern Gaza, says children are arriving at hospital ‘like a corpse’ as they face severe dehydration and malnutrition. Warning: This video contains scenes of malnourished children.

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