Amidst Ongoing Conflict, Canadians Stranded in Gaza as Hundreds Evacuate

People enter the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on November 1, 2023. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of dual passport holders and dozens of severely injured Palestinians were permitted to evacuate Gaza on Wednesday, following more than three weeks under siege and consecutive days of Israeli airstrikes in densely populated areas. Notably absent from the list of evacuees were Canadian citizens.

The General Authority for Border Crossings in Gaza released a list of individuals permitted to leave, including citizens from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, and Jordan. However, no Canadians were included, leaving many concerned for their safety amidst the ongoing conflict.

The Canadian government has stated that it is actively working to assist Canadians in exiting Gaza and is in direct communication with those affected, providing updates on potential departure options via the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. Global Affairs Canada has already facilitated the departure of 65 Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible family members from the West Bank since the conflict began. Currently, the organization is in contact with 70 individuals who remain in the region.

The ongoing violence has displaced tens of thousands of people from their homes, with shortages of food, water, and fuel adding to the crisis. A limited agreement reached on Wednesday allowed for the evacuation of hundreds of foreign nationals and injured Palestinians.

People enter the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip in preparation for crossing into Egypt on November 1, 2023. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Al-Jazeera, one of the few media outlets still operating in northern Gaza, has provided harrowing footage of the devastation in the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City. Numerous casualties, including children, have been reported, though exact numbers are unknown at this time.

Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza have resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis, with over half the population displaced and critical shortages of essential supplies. A territory-wide blackout has left hospitals dependent on generators, with fuel imports barred by Israel. This has resulted in the shutdown of Gaza’s only specialized cancer treatment facility, the Turkish-Palestinian Hospital, leaving 70 cancer patients in a critical situation.

Amidst the deteriorating circumstances, 110 foreign passport holders were allowed to exit Gaza as of Wednesday afternoon, with plans for over 400 individuals to leave for Egypt. Egypt has stated it will not accept Palestinian refugees due to concerns that Israel will not allow them to return post-conflict.

Personnel of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), take position during ground operations at a location given as Gaza, November 1. via Israel Defense Forces

The death toll from the war continues to rise, with more than 8,700 Palestinians, mostly women and minors, and over 1,400 Israelis, primarily civilians, reported dead. The Israeli military has confirmed the death of nine soldiers in northern Gaza, bringing the total number to 11 since the ground operation began.

Jordan, a key U.S. ally and signatory of a 1994 peace deal with Israel, has recalled its ambassador from Israel in protest of the ongoing war. Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ayman al-Safadi, has called for an end to Israel’s “war on Gaza” and expressed concern over the potential regional implications of the conflict.

The future governance of Gaza post-conflict remains uncertain. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested that the revitalized Palestinian Authority should assume governance and security responsibility for the territory. The war has also threatened to ignite further conflict along other fronts, with daily exchanges of fire reported between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, and Israeli and U.S. strikes in Syria targeting Iran-linked groups.