Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly announced on Tuesday that the Canadian government is in the process of planning assistance for Canadians departing from Tel Aviv, using Canadian Armed Forces aircraft. This crucial move comes in response to the escalating conflict involving the Canadian-designated terrorist group Hamas' incursion into Israel and Israeli reprisal strikes.
A Lifeline for Stranded Canadians: "The Canadian government will be offering these flights to Canadian citizens, their spouses, and their children; as well as Canadian permanent residents, their spouses, and their children," stated Minister Joly. "We are also working on additional options for those who cannot reach the airport in Tel Aviv."
As the conflict enters its fourth day, thousands of individuals, including Canadian citizens, have been killed or left stranded due to the violence and disruption in the region. Canadian travelers in Israel have faced mounting challenges, including airline cancellations and difficulties in receiving assistance from the embassy despite increased consular capacity. Many Canadians in the region have been anxiously awaiting an exit strategy. Mike Safi, a Canadian traveler in Jerusalem, expressed his concern, noting the evacuation efforts undertaken by other nations for their citizens.
Pressure on the Government: After facing pressure from the opposition and receiving numerous inquiries, Minister Joly announced via social media, pledging to provide more details on the evacuation plan on the following day.
"I know this situation has been difficult. Many of you want to return home to your family and have no way to do so safely," said Joly. There are currently 3,234 Canadians registered in Israel and 478 Canadians in Gaza and the West Bank. The government is urging any Canadians in the affected region who have not yet registered to do so, allowing embassy officials to provide them with more information about the upcoming evacuation flights.
Humanitarian Concerns: Global Affairs Canada (GAC) expressed deep concern about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and the impact on civilians in the region. The missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah will continue to operate unless security conditions prohibit their activities. Furthermore, officials in Ottawa, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon are offering emergency surge support and addressing numerous inquiries regarding flight options for Canadians.
Opposition's Call for Evacuation: The Canadian Official Opposition Conservatives had called on the federal government to immediately arrange evacuation flights for Canadians stranded in Israel. "More than 72 hours after the horrific invasion and terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, the Government of Canada is still failing to provide timely assistance to Canadians seeking help to leave the country," said Conservative MP and foreign affairs critic Michael Chong. He emphasized that other countries, such as Poland and Brazil, have already sent aircraft to evacuate their citizens.
NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson echoed the importance of ensuring the safety of Canadians in the region. She urged the Canadian government to collaborate with allies on the ground to facilitate the safe return of Canadians in Israel and Palestine.
Safety and Security of Deployed Personnel: In response to the crisis, the Department of National Defence confirmed that all Canadian Armed Forces members involved in multinational missions in the region are safe and accounted for. While there is a small number of Canadian Armed Forces members posted to the embassy in Tel Aviv, proactive measures are being taken to ensure their safety and that of their families. The department is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to adjust operations as required.
As the conflict in the region continues to evolve, the Canadian government's commitment to evacuating its citizens from the affected areas brings hope and relief to those who have been stranded in a perilous situation. The nation now awaits further details on the evacuation plan that will reunite Canadians with their families and loved ones.