TORONTO (JTA) — Toronto police launched a hate crimes investigation into comments made by a Palestinian community leader who called for the murder of Israelis.
“We have received a complaint with regards to things said at the Al-Quds Day rally. There is an investigation ongoing,” Toronto police spokeswoman Wendy Drummond told the Canadian Jewish News.
Addressing an Al-Quds Day rally on Aug. 3, Elias Hazineh, former president of Palestine House in suburban Toronto, said “an ultimatum” must be issued to Israelis: “You have to leave Jerusalem. You have to leave Palestine,” he said.
“We say get out or you’re dead! We give them two minutes and then we start shooting. And that’s the only way that they will understand,” Hazineh said to cheers from a crowd of approximately 400 at the annual rally.
His remarks were captured on video and posted to several blogs and websites, including YouTube. Both the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and B’nai Brith Canada sent the video to police for investigation as a possible violation of the Canadian Criminal Code’s hate crimes provisions. Hazineh later said his comments were not meant to be taken literally.
Hazineh, noting he is Christian, told The Jerusalem Post that he disagreed with recognizing Israel as a Jewish state because no country should be inherently religious.
A global Al-Quds Day was started by the late Iranian cleric Ayatollah Khomeini to press for the “liberation” of Al-Quds, the Arabic name for Jerusalem.