Montreal, October 7, 2023 — Like many other Canadians, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) condemns the violence against civilians in both Israel and the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. Hamas resistance forces entered Israel earlier today, targeting both Israeli military personnel as well as civilians. Israeli forces responded to Hamas’ attack by targeting both militant actors and civilians in indiscriminate strikes in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. In Canada, CJPME is particularly troubled by the double standard evident in the immediate response from many Canadian politicians, which is quick to denounce Hamas’ actions today but remains silent on Israel’s decades of brutal military occupation and apartheid against Palestinians.
Within hours after the Hamas attack was launched, Canadian political parties and politicians had issued statements forcefully condemning the attack, while ignoring the grave violations of international law in Israel’s response. “Where are the condemnations from Canadian politicians about Israel’s deliberate targeting of residential towers with airstrikes, the bombing of a hospital, or the decision to shut off electricity to more than 2 million civilians in the Gaza Strip?” said Michael Bueckert, VP of CJPME. “Not once has Trudeau strongly condemned Israel’s many military ‘operations’ against Gaza, even when those attacks were unprovoked, indiscriminately harmed civilians, and amounted to war crimes according to UN experts and human rights groups,” added Bueckert.
Kenneth Roth, former executive director of Human Rights Watch upbraided politicians for using the ‘terrorism’ label in a context where the word is only ever applied “to one side”: “Better to remind both Hamas and the Israeli government that humanitarian law makes it a war crime to target or indiscriminately fire on civilians.” CJPME notes the use of similar unjustified distinctions in a tweet from Trudeau earlier today, which said that “Canada strongly condemns the current terrorist attacks against Israel” but also “fully support[s] [Israel’s] right to defend itself,” without any mention of the Palestinian victims of Israeli violence. As of 3:30pm EST, at least 230 Palestinians have been killed, as well as at least 200 Israelis.
Earlier today, CJPME called on Canada to push for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, including an immediate end to the brutal daily violence of Israel’s military occupation and apartheid practices. CJPME supports calls for the release of all hostages, as hostage-taking is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. CJPME considers blind expressions of support for Israeli ‘self defence’ to be a recipe for the continued violence of the status quo. CJPME applauds those public figures who highlight the broader context of Israeli occupation, violence and apartheid against Palestinians. Only when the international community attributes equal value to Palestinian and Israeli lives and rights will there be hope for justice and peace in the region.