As Israel moves towards total war, Canada must seek de-escalation: CJPME

Montreal, October 10, 2023Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) urgently calls the Canadian government to push for a de-escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas, starting with an immediate ceasefire. Hamas attacks on Israel on Saturday resulted in over 900 Israeli deaths, and up to 100 prisoners and hostages; Israeli airstrikes in Gaza since then have so far killed 770, many of them civilians, including at least 140 children. Like many, CJPME fears that there will continue to be extreme and unnecessary bloodshed for both sides as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he is “just getting started,” and is reportedly preparing for an imminent ground invasion that could last weeks. 

While CJPME decries Hamas’ violence against civilians and its civilian hostage-taking, CJPME warns that Israel’s response of total war against Gaza will only deepen the misery and suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians. “Israel needs allies who can de-escalate the situation, implement a ceasefire, and find a way to release the hostages without additional carnage,” asserts Thomas Woodley, president of CJPME. “This is an extraordinarily dangerous moment. Instead of cheering on Israel as it takes out its revenge on the people of Gaza, Canada should be working with international partners to stop the bloodshed and hold Israel to its obligations under international law,” added Woodley.  

So far, in response to Saturday’s attack, political leaders in the Trudeau government, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland have expressed solidarity only with Israel, despite the fact that Israel’s military response has indiscriminately killed hundreds of innocent civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel’s imposition of a “total siege” on Gaza – including its ban on the entry of food, water, fuel, and electricity into the occupied territory – is an act of collective punishment and a flagrant violation of international law that is only intended to inflict harm upon the civilian population. While the world is horrified by Hamas’ killing of Israeli civilians and desecration of many of the bodies, a massive Israeli ground invasion will intensify the violence faced by the people of Gaza, and would endanger Israeli hostages.

“True friends of Israel and the Palestinians would push for a de-escalation of the tensions, to protect civilian lives above all,” concludes Woodley. CJPME asserts that blind support for the Israeli side – as expressed recently by many Canadian politicians – is a political and humanitarian dead end that will not address the underlying causes of violence, which include decades of Israeli oppression and apartheid against Palestinians. CJPME insists upon the equal application of international law to all, and urges Canada to finally give its support to the International Criminal Court in its investigation of war crimes committed by all parties in Palestine and Israel.