Canadian Nationals Left Behind Amid Foreign Exits from Gaza

Palestinians with dual nationality register to cross to Egypt on the Gaza Strip side of the border crossing in Rafah on Thursday. (Hatem Ali/The Associated Press)

As foreign nationals depart from Gaza, Canadians express dismay over exclusion from exit lists.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Gaza are facing growing frustration as they remain unable to leave the conflict-stricken region, despite other foreign nationals securing safe passage into Egypt. Families awaiting departure are dealing with dashed hopes after an evacuation list issued by Gaza border authorities included citizens from countries such as Japan, the U.K., and Australia, but not Canada.

According to CBC News, only one Canadian—an international worker on a separate list—has managed to exit through the Rafah border crossing since it opened to foreign passport holders. This is the first time the crossing has been accessible since the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict on October 7.

Said Alhassoimi, a 16-year-old Canadian, recounted to CBC News his family’s disappointment after rushing to the border on Wednesday, prompted by a call from Global Affairs Canada, only to discover their names were not on the exit list. “We checked our names and sadly our names were not on that list … and we’re confused because we talked to the Canadian government and they said we were registered,” Alhassoimi shared.

The sense of urgency is palpable among those seeking to flee the bombings. Ahmad Abualjedian, a Canadian permanent resident from Brantford, Ontario, expressed his desperation to CBC News about reuniting with his wife and newborn daughter in Gaza, a daughter he has only seen through a brief video.

Scores of foreign passport holders trapped in Gaza started leaving the war-torn Palestinian territory on Nov. 1 when the Rafah crossing to Egypt was opened up for the first time since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.
Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Global Affairs Canada issued a statement on Thursday, acknowledging the distress of Canadian nationals and reiterating their commitment to securing an exit strategy. “We continue to work around the clock to secure a window for Canadians to exit Gaza. We are communicating directly with Canadians, giving them the latest information regarding the situation,” the department conveyed.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden reported that 74 Americans with dual citizenship had successfully departed Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

With one of the largest contingents of nationals in Gaza, Canada is expected to be assigned a specific date for the evacuation of some 450 Canadians registered in Gaza and the West Bank, as per Global Affairs Canada. Mahmoud Nasser, a Canadian trying to leave with his family, mentioned that although Global Affairs has advised them to be ready for departure, no specific date or time has been confirmed.

Dalia Salim, a London, Ontario resident, faces similar uncertainty as she attempts to secure her 66-year-old Canadian father’s evacuation. Salim’s concern extends to her grandmother, a Palestinian, who might face difficulties leaving the territory.

This situation unfolds as Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly engages in discussions with her Israeli and Egyptian counterparts, striving to facilitate the exit of Canadian nationals. As the Global Authority for Border Crossings in Gaza continues to release lists of those allowed to leave, Canadian families cling to hope for their inclusion in upcoming evacuations.