Two Canadians Confirmed Dead in Israel, Third Presumed; Evacuation Flights to Begin This Week

Two Canadians Confirmed Dead in Israel, Third Presumed; Evacuation Flights to Begin This Week
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023.

The recent turmoil in Israel has claimed the lives of two Canadians, with a third feared dead. The government is gearing up for emergency evacuations as the situation escalates.

Canadian Casualties

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly confirmed on Wednesday the death of two Canadians, with another presumed dead, in Israel. An earlier statement had indicated three confirmed deaths, but Joly, alongside Julie Sunday, Global Affairs Canada’s assistant deputy minister for consular security and emergency management, clarified that Israeli authorities have yet to confirm the third death.

Moreover, Minister Joly disclosed that three other Canadians are currently missing in the region. “The government is following reports of the missing Canadians and is in close contact with their families to offer support,” she said.

While questions about Canadian hostages remained unanswered, Joly hinted that Canada would be dispatching officials to aid the team in Israel that is currently engaged in hostage negotiations.

Canadian Evacuation

Evacuation Measures

Efforts are underway to help Canadians stranded in the region find their way home. The latest data reveals that 4,249 Canadians are registered in Israel, with another 476 in Gaza and the West Bank.

Discussing the evacuation process, Joly stated that Canadian Armed Forces aircraft would transport evacuees from Tel Aviv to Athens. An Air Canada plane will then fly Canadians back home. The government had announced the previous night that it will help Canadians depart in the coming days, with eligibility for these flights extending to Canadian citizens, their spouses, and children, as well as Canadian permanent residents and their immediate families.

Despite the embassy ramping up its consular capacity, many Canadians in Israel have reported difficulties in getting home due to airline cancellations and challenges accessing embassy assistance. These concerns led federal opposition parties to urge immediate emergency airlifts.

Passengers look at a departure board at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 7, 2023, as flights are canceled because of the Hamas surprise attacks. The conflict sparked major disruption at Tel Aviv airport, with American Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa and Ryanair among carriers with cancelled flights. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

Impending Airlifts

While exact details regarding the airlifts are scant, the Canadian government is urging any Canadians in the region yet to register to do so promptly. This will allow embassy officials to disseminate more information regarding the upcoming flights.

Joly reassured that the missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah will remain operational “unless security conditions do not allow for it.” Additionally, officials based in Ottawa, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon are primed to provide emergency surge support, catering to a growing number of inquiries about flight alternatives. The minister also hinted at “additional options for those who cannot reach the airport in Tel Aviv,” with more details expected to emerge soon.

Israelis inspect the rubble of a building in Tel Aviv a day after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. (Oded Balilty/The Associated Press)

Condemning Violence

Amid this backdrop of chaos, Minister Joly, joined by Chief of Defence Staff Wayne Eyre, denounced Hamas’ attacks and called for an immediate cessation of violence, providing the latest updates on the Israel-Gaza conflict, which is currently in its fifth day.