What is happening in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and beyond? CJPME's Crisis Report is a high-level overview of key developments regarding the most recent escalation of violence in the Middle East, to be updated 1-2 times daily.
Last updated: Saturday, May 29, 4:30 p.m. ET
In this brief:
- Updated statistics
- The key issues since May 10
- The Canadian political response
- Key day-to-day developments
- Important legal points on Israel and Gaza
- Important legal points on Israel and Jerusalem
See also: Compilation of MP Statements on the recent escalation
Important statistics since Monday, May 10, 2021
- Palestinians killed in Gaza: 253 including 66 children
- Palestinians wounded in Gaza: 8,538
- Palestinians internally displaced in Gaza: 90,000
- Palestinians killed in East Jerusalem and West Bank: at least 27
- Palestinians wounded in East Jerusalem and West Bank: at least 4,733
- Health buildings damaged in Gaza: at least 30
- Education facilities damaged in Gaza: at least 51
- Israelis killed: 12, including 2 children
- Israelis wounded: at least 333
- Sheikh Jarrah Neighbourhood – In the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian families are facing the imminent threat of mass eviction, to be replaced by Israeli settlers. This is one part of Israel’s long-term process of dispossession and ethnic cleansing. A final court date to hear an appeal from the families is pending, as it was postponed due to widespread protests. Similar expulsions are taking place in the Silwan neighbourhood.
- Al Aqsa Mosque – For several consecutive nights starting on May 7, Israel conducted violent raids at the Al Aqsa mosque, assaulting worshippers during the holiest nights of Ramadan. Similar raids targeted Palestinians protesting the Sheikh Jarrah evictions elsewhere in Jerusalem. Hundreds of Palestinians were injured by Israeli stun grenades, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. This violence continues, even following the ceasefire.
- Palestinian Uprising - In response to the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and the Al Aqsa raids, Palestinians have been protesting across the West Bank, Jerusalem, and inside Israel, facing brutal repression and lethal violence from Israeli forces, settlers, and violent mobs. On May 18, millions of Palestinians across the region took place in a General Strike. Following the ceasefire, Israel has conducted mass arrests targeting Palestinians everywhere.
- Gaza – On May 10, Hamas began to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel after giving an ultimatum for Israel to remove its forces from Al Aqsa and stop the Sheikh Jarrah evictions. Israel began to respond aggressively with airstrikes and artillery fire, many striking residential targets, medical sites, and UN schools, causing a growing number of civilian deaths. This is Israel’s largest and most violent assault on Gaza since 2014, under the moniker “Operation Guardian of the Walls.” Israel repeatedly refused calls for a ceasefire, but a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came into effect early on Friday May 21 after 11 days of violence which killed at least 253 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.
- Israeli Apartheid – From Sheikh Jarrah, to Al Aqsa, to Gaza, to the West Bank, and to the violent anti-Palestinian riots inside Israel, Palestinians across historic Palestine are suffering from different aspects of Israel’s regime of apartheid. In April, Human Rights Watch concluded that Israeli officials are committing the crime of apartheid. Earlier this year, Israel’s largest human rights group B’Tselem said that Israel is an apartheid regime, or “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
Canadian Political Responses to situation in Palestine-Israel
- May 28, 2021, Canada announces $24 million in aid to the Palestinians
- May 27, 2021, Remarks from Canada's delegation to the UN to the UN Human Rights Council says that "Canada calls on Israel to stop settlement activities, including those in East Jerusalem and the West Bank"
- May 27, 2021, Canada's Ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae, tweets that "Canada has been clear: the evictions in East Jerusalem should not be happening."
- May 20, 2021, Statements from political leaders welcoming the ceasefire: Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau says Canada is "appalled by the tragic loss of life and urge all sides to further de-escalate tensions"; Conservative Party Leader Erin O'Toole reiterates Israel's "right to defend itself"; NDP foreign affairs critic Jack Harris says "until the illegal occupation ends there will be no long-term justice & peace."
- May 20, 2021, Canada's Ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae, speaks to the UN and says that "Canada stands firmly with both the Israeli and Palestinian people"
- May 20, 2021, Statement from members of the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group, representing 24 MPs and 2 senators from Liberal, NDP, Green, BQ parties, urges Canada to condemn Israeli practices and apply the same sanctions it has used against Russian and Chinese officials.
- May 20, 2021, NDP MP Niki Ashton and Green MP Paul Manly sign letter with other members of the newly-formed Inter-Parliamentary Task Force from North America and Europe urging governments to put pressure on Israel to respect human rights
- May 19, 2021, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau speaks to Israel counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, reiterates calls for a ceasefire.
- May 18, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he supports a ceasefire
- May 16, 2021, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau issues new statement with stronger language around evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli attacks on journalists, but still no direct language criticizing Israel
- May 16, 2021, Bloc Québécois issues statement calling for a ceasefire and withdrawal of fighting from Gaza
- May 16, 2021, Green Party leader Annamie Paul releases second statement calling for a ceasefire, includes allusions to evictions and raids on Al Aqsa.
- May 14, 2021, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Jack Harris requests an emergency Parliamentary debate on the situation in Jerusalem.
- May 13, 2021, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Jack Harris issues statement noting that “there will be no solution to this protracted conflict until there is an end to the 50 year occupation,” and calling on Canada to “end arms sales to Israel until the end of the illegal occupation”
- May 13, 2021, Green MP Paul Manly attempts to trigger an emergency debate.
- May 13, 2021, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for an arms embargo on Israel.
- May 13, 2021, Bloc Québécois MP Stéphane Bergeron introduces a motion in Parliament, calling on Canada to demand a ceasefire and to tell Israel to “stop colonizing and annexing Palestinian territories,” but it is blocked by Liberal and Conservative MPs.
- May 12, 2021, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau issues statement noting “completely unacceptable” violence at Al Aqsa, and grave concern over demolitions and evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
- May 11, 2021, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole issues statement condemning Hamas for rocket attacks, does not mention evictions or the raids on Al Aqsa
- May 10, 2021, Green Party leader Annamie Paul issues statement which calls for all sides to deescalate, does not mention evictions or the raids on Al Aqsa
- May 8, 2021, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh calls for Canada to condemn violence against Palestinians and illegal evictions
- May 8, 2021, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau issues statement calling for de-escalation on “all sides” and expressing deep concern over evictions in Sheikh Jarrah
- May 8, 2021, and the days following: MPs (Liberal, NDP, Green, IND) begin to issue statements criticizing the forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and Israel’s raids of Al Aqsa. Several MPs courageously use correct terms such as “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing,” including MPs from the NDP and Green parties, as well as Independents. See CJPME's "MP Statements" page for a compilation of statements from MPs and government officials on these issues.
Key developments regarding Israel’s assault on Palestinians
- May 28, ‘Terrorising a generation’: Israel arresting Palestinian children
- May 27, UN rights council to investigate crimes during Gaza conflict and ‘systematic’ abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel
- May 27, UN rights chief: Israeli strikes in Gaza may be war crimes
- May 26, Ireland first EU state to declare Israeli settlements 'annexation'
- May 26, Israeli court delays ruling on expulsion of families in Silwan
- May 24, ‘A war declaration’: Palestinians in Israel decry mass arrests
- May 23, Backed by Israeli police, Jewish settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound
- May 22, 180,000 people march in London in UK's largest pro-Palestine march in history
- May 21, Al-Aqsa Mosque: Israel police storm the complex following Gaza ceasefire
- May 21, ‘We don’t sleep’: Sheikh Jarrah Palestinians decry harassment
- May 20, Israel says ceasefire reached amid more Israeli airstrikes, Hamas rocket firings
- May 20, Gaza: Israeli air raid kills disabled man, pregnant wife, child
- May 19, Gaza office of Canadian start-up destroyed by airstrikes; company calls for action against apartheid
- May 19, South African president: The situation in Gaza ‘brings back terrible memories of apartheid’
- May 19, US: AOC to Introduce Resolution Blocking Bomb Sale to Israel
- May 19, Netanyahu Tells Diplomats He Doesn’t Rule Out Reoccupying Gaza [Gaza is already occupied by Israel as recognized by the UN and international community, but Israel does not have forces on the ground]
- May 19, Fifty schools damaged by Israeli bombardment in Gaza
- May 18, Millions of Palestinians across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories participate in a general strike
- May 17, US blocks UN statement for third time in a week
- May 16, Netanyahu reiterates opposition to the idea of a ceasefire and says that assault on Gaza will continue in “full force”
- May 16, Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital is Overwhelmed with Wounded
- May 16, Protests around the World Demonstrate Support for Palestinians
- May 15, Israel destroys residential tower in Gaza which hosted the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press
- May 15, “Massacre” as Israeli airstrikes on a refugee camp kill at least 10 members of a family, including 2 women and 8 children
Important Legal Points regarding Israel and Gaza:
- Israeli Self-Defence: Israel does not have an unlimited right to self-defence. Under international law, Israel’s response to Hamas rockets must be limited to military targets, and must be proportionate to the threat faced. In past flare-ups of violence, independent investigators have repeatedly found that Israel’s military assaults on Gaza were indiscriminate and disproportionate. “Self defence” cannot be pre-emptive.
- Rockets from Gaza which cannot distinguish between military and civilian targets are illegal under international law
- Well-being of Gaza Civilians: Under international law, Israel may not attack “military” targets in Gaza if it endangers the lives and livelihoods of civilians
- Allowing Gaza Civilians to Flee: Under international law, Israel must allow civilians to flee from active conflict. Israel violates international law when it closes the borders of Gaza, and carries out a military assault
- Israel’s siege of Gaza is illegal because it fails to distinguish between civilian and non-civilian needs, and because it causes undue humanitarian hardship on Gaza’s civilian population
- Israeli Collective Punishment: By indiscriminately targeting dual-use military-civilian infrastructure, Israel commits the crime of “collective punishment.” Under international law, Israel is not permitted to “punish” 2 million civilians in Gaza for the acts of militant groups.
- Human Shields? Israel’s assertion that militants in Gaza use “human shields” has never been substantiated by independent third-party investigations.
Important Legal Points regarding Israel and Jerusalem:
- Status of East Jerusalem: Israel’s so-called “annexation” of East Jerusalem in 1967 has never been recognized by the international community, and has been repeatedly condemned by the United Nations.
- Status of occupied Palestinian territories: International law absolutely outlaws the acquisition of territory by force. Israel never “captured” the West Bank, Gaza, or East Jerusalem, and any such claims are unsubstantiated under international law.
- Confiscating Civilian Property: As the occupying power, Israel does not have the right to confiscate civilian property. As such, the Israeli government is not permitted to seize homes or property, nor is it allowed to evict people from their homes, except for an emergency military necessity.
- Protecting Civilian Life: As the occupying power, Israel must allow the civilian population to carry out their lives, including access to medical care, education, and religious observances. As such, Israeli security forces do not have the right to prevent Palestinians from religious observances at the Al Aqsa Mosque.