Montreal, October 7, 2023 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is urging the Canadian government to support calls for a ceasefire and a negotiated resolution following today’s escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel. Hamas launched an unprecedented surprise attack on Israel early this morning (“Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”), firing 5,000 rockets and using ground fighters to capture areas in Israel, killing at least 40 people and injuring hundreds. In response, Israel appears to be using this crisis as a pretext to escalate its devastating violence on the people of the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip, with retaliatory airstrikes already killing more than 198 and injuring at least 1000. CJPME calls on the international community to address the root cause of this escalation by demanding an end to Israel’s blockade and apartheid policies, which have made a violent response inevitable.
“Canada must call on all parties to implement a ceasefire, including an immediate end to the brutal daily violence of Israel’s military occupation and apartheid practices,” said Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. CJPME notes that Israel's brutal policies over the last several decades have ensured a state of tension and hostility - one that guarantees the continuance of Palestinian armed resistance. “A ceasefire must be reached before Israel can use this incident as an excuse to kill Palestinians and punish the civilian population in Gaza,” added Woodley. CJPME points out that indiscriminate Israeli strikes in Gaza – essentially collective punishment – would be considered serious violations of international law.
The recent attack by Hamas comes in the context of significant Israeli violence and oppression. Over the past several years, Israel has repeatedly launched military assaults on Gaza, including in 2021, 2022, and 2023. The last two of these Israeli attacks were blatantly unprovoked or ‘pre-emptive,’ in which Hamas was seen to show restraint by deciding not to respond. Israel was accused of war crimes for its targeting of civilians during these attacks. Today’s attack also comes amid near-daily, intensive, and deadly Israeli military invasions into cities in the occupied West Bank which have killed more than 200 Palestinians this year, and follows provocative incursions by Israeli settlers into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
CJPME notes that under international law, Palestinians have a right to resort to armed violence against racist regimes, military occupation, and foreign domination. However, there are limitations to this right: the actions of armed groups are subject to international humanitarian law, and must distinguish between combatants and civilians.
CJPME points out that the Trudeau government has opposed all efforts by Palestinians to access justice through non-violence means, whether through the movement to boycott Israel, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, or the International Criminal Court. “Violence is an inevitable response when all avenues for peaceful, nonviolent, or diplomatic protest against oppression have been denied,” said Woodley.
*Note: All casualty figures are as of 10:30am EST. These are expected to rise throughout the day.
About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.
For more information, please contact: Michael Bueckert, VP CJPME: 613-315-7947 or [email protected].
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
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