As violent confrontations surge between Hamas and the Israeli military, Canada joins a global call for restraint, simultaneously issuing a stern warning to its citizens stationed in the conflict-ridden region.
An Unprecedented Escalation
Over the weekend, the militant group Hamas initiated an unprecedented incursion into Israeli towns. This was accompanied by abductions and attacks on civilians in southern Israel, specifically those areas proximate to Gaza. These events prompted swift Israeli airstrikes on targets located within the Palestinian territory.
In light of the ongoing crisis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t mince words. He firmly stated, “Canada strongly condemns the current terrorist attacks against Israel. These acts of violence are completely unacceptable. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself.”
The Canadian government is bracing for continued military operations in Gaza, following the heightened aggressions. Global Affairs Canada has, till now, received nearly 100 inquiries related to the conflict. However, they have reported no casualties among Canadians at the moment.
Egypt, too, has weighed in, with its foreign ministry emphasizing the importance of “exercising maximum restraint and avoiding exposing civilians to further danger.”
Travel and Safety Advisory
Global Affairs Canada remains proactive in its advisories, urging Canadians to steer clear of Gaza. Those who currently reside in the West Bank and parts of Israel that are in the crosshairs of the conflict have been recommended to remain “extremely cautious.”
For those in the vicinity, they have been instructed to:
- Limit their movements
- Seek shelter until safety is assured
- Keep an eye on local media channels
- Heed the advice of local authorities
- Download and use the Home Front Command app, which provides crucial emergency alerts
According to CBS News, the situation in southern Israel is particularly grim. Ashkelon, for instance, is emerging as one of the most hazardous places for civilians. A senior hospital official, Tal Bergman, confirmed that militants had launched rockets from Gaza, targeting and damaging a hospital in this coastal town.
Air Travel Disruptions
The escalating tensions have caused a ripple effect in air travel as well. As of Sunday, Global Affairs revealed that Air Canada will be suspending its flight operations temporarily between Tel Aviv and major Canadian international airports in Toronto and Montreal.
This move mirrors global trepidation. According to FlightAware, airlines including Germany’s Lufthansa, and U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, have collectively cancelled over 80 flights to and from Tel Aviv by Saturday evening. This accounts for a substantial 14% of all scheduled flights.
The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has informed that its staff are taking refuge in place. A stringent travel prohibition to Gaza and regions within 11 kilometres of the territory has been imposed for U.S. government personnel.
Conversely, Global Affairs Canada, in a reassuring statement on Saturday, confirmed that all personnel at the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv and in Ramallah in the West Bank are “safe and accounted for.”