A majority of Canadians surveyed say they believe pro-Palestine rallies and protests do raise awareness about the Gaza conflict, but there is doubt that the awareness will change the how universities or governments treat Israel.

The new polling by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute found that 66 per cent of Canadians feel this way. Some 42 per cent of respondents believe that protest movements can make institutions change their position on Israel compared to 49 per cent who say no.  

Only 20 per cent of all 1,707 Canadians surveyed believed that these protests were effective at changing the views of those who initially disagreed with the movement. Of those who have attended protests in the past six months, 74 per cent say the protests have changed attitudes.

Younger Canadians were more than twice as likely to support major blockades than those older than 54. Despite the stronger support from younger Canadians, only about a third of those aged 18-34 found it acceptable to engage in major blockades as a form of protest.

In addition, a majority also felt that it was unacceptable to stop downtown traffic in the a major city, block a bridge or railway, or block a border crossing or major port to support a cause they found important. 

The new polling results come in light of protest encampments taking place on various university campuses across Canada, including on a lawn in front of Tabaret Hall at the University of Ottawa. 

In Ottawa, a student-led human rights advocacy group Integrity Not Spite Against Falastine (INSAF) has organized the encampment with a protest that began on April 29.

Now entering its second week, the student protest is calling for the divestment and disclosure of Israeli-affiliated businesses and investments by the University of Ottawa. 

Palestinian solidarity rallies and protests have been ongoing in Canada in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed about 1,200 Israelis and saw more than 250 others taken hostage, according to Israeli officials. The Israeli assault on Gaza has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians as of early May, according to the Palestinian health authority. 

In Gaza today Israeli Defence Forces tanks are now patrolling the Rafah border crossing after urging Palestinians to leave East Rafah and head to a designate safe zone near the Mediterranean northwest of the embattled are. Some 500,000 people, many living in tents, are under the warning.

The seizure of the border and the ground incursion into East Rafah has closed off a vital aid route to the Palestinians in the devastated Gaza territory. Many are starving and a famine has been declared in northern Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said seizing the crossing was a “very significant step” towards its stated aim of destroying Hamas’s military capabilities.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to Israel and Hamas to spare no effort to get a truce deal and urged Israel to reopen the border crossings.

Meanwhile, there remains some hope that negotiations on a possible release of Israeli hostages and a truce may continue.

On Monday, Hamas agreed to a Qatari and Egyptian ceasefire proposal but Netanyahu said the proposal falls “far short” of Israel’s demands.

However, the various players appear willing to talk. An Israeli delegation has arrived in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

And Hamas has a delegation in Cairo as well.