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CUPE members joined thousands in marches across Canada this past weekend calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East.

In Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and other cities, diverse communities called for the end of Israel’s collective punishment of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians and the cessation of Hezbollah hostilities.

CUPE members marched in actions across the country, including on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, where about 1400 people marched. Demonstrators, mainly from Ottawa’s large Lebanese community, slammed Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his position on the crisis.

CUPE National President Paul Moist issued a statement on the crisis, calling on Harper to press for an immediate ceasefire.

As Israeli bombs were killing civilians and razing neighbourhoods, Harper referred to Israeli actions as a “measured response,” angering many and raising fears that Canada is abandoning a mediating role in Middle East conflicts.

The crisis is entering its third week, with no signs of abating. So far, about 42 Israelis have perished, including about 20 soldiers. Hezbollah rockets have pounded houses, hospitals and other non-military targets indiscriminately in northern Israeli cities and towns.

The civilian death toll has been much graver on the Lebanese side, however, with the Israeli air force killing over 380 civilians, most of them women and children, and destroying municipal and government infrastructure. A humanitarian crisis is well underway in Lebanon, with almost a quarter of the population now displaced.

Meanwhile, more than 100 Palestinians have died in violence in the Gaza strip since June.