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‘It’s very devastating’: Calgary woman calls for ceasefire out of fear for her family and other civilians in Gaza

A Palestinian woman who now lives in Calgary is calling on Canada and other western nations to order a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

For the last week, Riwaa Alsarhi has spent every day checking in on her family in Gaza.

But she lost touch with them on Friday after Israel cut electricity in their region.

“It’s very devastating and painful not to know what’s going on, what happening to them. You want to make sure just they are safe,” she said.

Alsarhi moved to Calgary in 2019, but grew up in Gaza.

She says her childhood home and neighbourhood were destroyed.

“My dad and mom has been working for more than 45 years to build this house, and it’s just destroyed in one minute in front of their eyes,” she said.

Alsarhi’s parents, siblings and other family have evacuated to southern Gaza, where they are staying in a gymnasium.

“There’s no safe place there. Nothing is, nobody is safe,” she said.

“No water, no food, no bread, even for the kids to eat. And nothing under them, they’re just sleeping on the ground.”

Alsarhi and her husband have lost close to 20 family members in the conflict.

She says two of her cousins, 11 and 15 years old, were among the victims.

“They just were sitting in their house playing, and then suddenly an air strike happened, so they have been killed,” she said.

Alsarhi wants the Canadian government to step in and push for a ceasefire — an increasingly urgent plea with a possible Israeli ground offensive on the horizon.

“Stop killing the civilians who have nothing to do with Hamas. Stop killing those people, they are innocent, they just want to live in peace,” she said.

Justice for Palestinians is holding a rally outside Calgary’s city hall at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The group is also calling for a ceasefire and for humanitarian corridors to be opened for people who are stuck in Gaza.

Organizers say there will be multiple speakers at the event and a heavy police presence in case there are any issues.

On Saturday, Calgary police were once again patrolling near mosques and synagogues.

They have increased patrols near local places of worship and other areas of significance as demonstrations condemning the violence in the Middle East continue to grow around the world.

At this time, police say there is no direct threat to the public and they are working with other law enforcement agencies, community leaders and local groups to monitor the situation.

CTV News spoke to some members of the Jewish faith as they were heading into a synagogue, but most chose not to comment out of fear for their safety.  

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