A Muslim Canadian who called for Israelis to be given a two-minute warning to leave their homes "or be shot" has admitted that his remarks were “inflammatory” but has insisted he didn’t break any Canadian laws.
Elias Hazineh, the former president of "Palestine House," a Canadian NGO accused by the government of showing a "pattern of support for extremism," made the hateful remarks during the annual Al Quds Day march in Toronto. His remarks were captured on video and are now the focus of a police investigation.
“I did give a speech in Toronto that generated some controversy, it’s true,” he said, according to a report in the Toronto Star.
He admitted his words were “inappropriate.”
“The language was used in a metaphor, it was not used in reality... It was inflammatory, I admit, but it was to make a point. I was trying to say that enough is enough,” Hazineh said, according to the Toronto Star.
He claimed, however, that his remarks stemmed from frustration over “Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.”
“In retrospect, one could have used different words, but there is actual frustration,” he was quoted by the Star as having said.
“I don’t think what I said is illegal under Canadian law. I consulted a lawyer who said it doesn’t even come close to breaking the law,” Hazineh claimed.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), a Jewish Canadian advocacy group, has condemned Hazineh’s remarks and said that it forwarded them the Toronto Police Service for review.
Police spokesperson Const. Wendy Drummond confirmed to the Toronto Star that an investigation is underway, but would not confirm who filed a complaint against Hazineh.
Drummond, while acknowledging that police received video and are reviewing it, said any charges laid would depend on evidence gleaned from the investigation.
The Al-Quds Day in Toronto has for years been used as a platform to delegitimize Israel and call for its destruction. Another speaker at this year's protest, Zafar Bangash, attacked the Ontario Parliament’s decision not to allow the rally outside the parliament building, saying that the area had “become a Zionist occupied territory.”
Bangash also said that "Zionism will be eternally shamed.”