Canada Set to Airlift Citizens from Israel Amid Escalating Conflict

Canada Set to Airlift Citizens from Israel Amid Escalating Conflict
Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023. Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Ottawa is planning to airlift Canadian citizens, permanent residents, their spouses and their children out of Tel Aviv in "the coming days," as conflict between Israel and Hamas escalates. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

As tensions continue to rise between Israel and Hamas, Canada is taking decisive action to safeguard its citizens. Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced on Tuesday that the Canadian government will be airlifting its citizens out of Tel Aviv “in the coming days.”

Immediate Evacuation Plans

A series of airstrikes and attacks have rocked the region, leading to an estimated death toll of 1,900 individuals. In the wake of this violence, the Canadian Armed Forces will utilize its military aircraft to carry out the evacuation mission from Tel Aviv. Joly ensured that these flights will prioritize Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate families.

“I know that this situation has been difficult. Many of you want to return home to your family and have no way to do so safely,” Joly’s statement highlighted the urgency of the situation. “We will help you.”

In addition to airlifting, the federal government is also considering alternative plans to evacuate Canadians by sea and land, as per sources who spoke to Radio-Canada.

Call for Registration

The Foreign Affairs Minister advised Canadians currently in Israel to register with Global Affairs Canada. As a part of the procedure, those requiring assistance are asked to get in touch via [email protected] or the contact number +1-613-996-8885.

Global Affairs Canada has already reported receiving over 785 requests from Canadians since the onset of the conflict. The majority of these queries involve inquiries about travel advice, flight and airport statuses, general security concerns, and details about family members.

The Death of Canadian Citizens

The violence has not spared Canadian lives. Reports have confirmed the tragic deaths of 22-year-old Ben Mizrachi from Vancouver and 33-year-old Alexandre Look from Montreal, following an attack on a music festival in southern Israel.

Palestinians walk amid the rubble following Israeli airstrikes that razed swaths of a neighbourhood in Gaza City (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Crisis in Gaza

While Joly’s statement primarily centered around Tel Aviv, it did not delve into the situation in the Gaza Strip. However, sources paint a grim picture: Israel’s retaliation to Hamas’ surprise attack has seen the Gaza Strip bear the brunt of intense conflict. The Israeli government’s actions have been described as a “total siege,” resulting in the complete halt of food, fuel, and medicines entering Gaza. Aid organizations are increasingly concerned about the escalating humanitarian crisis.

Political Stance

Political sentiments in Canada strongly favor Israel, with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre expressing their support. Trudeau was unequivocal in his condemnation of Hamas’ actions, stating: “Canada unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms condemns these terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas. We stand with Israel and reaffirm our support for Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law.”

The Conservative party, meanwhile, has criticized the federal Liberals, accusing them of “consular and diplomatic failures.” Their foreign-affairs critic, Michael Chong, emphasized that many Canadians were seeking assistance but receiving no answers.

Consular Services for Canadians

The Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv has come under scrutiny for its operational hours and accessibility, especially after reports that Canadians were redirected to hotlines or informed that the embassy was working limited hours over the holiday. In response, Joly confirmed the embassy’s continuous operation during the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Furthermore, Canada’s position on the international stage remains consistent. While Canada was not a signatory in a statement released by the “Quint” informal international grouping (comprising the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Italy), an anonymous Canadian official downplayed its significance, emphasizing that Canada’s statements aligned with those of its international allies.

The situation in the region remains fluid, with international implications. The Canadian government’s primary focus, for now, is the safe evacuation of its citizens from the volatile region. More details on the evacuation plan are expected on Wednesday, as per Minister Joly’s promise.