Israeli invasion of Gaza would gravely endanger civilians, hostages: CJPME

Montreal, October 20, 2023Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is urging Canada to speak out against an imminent Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, warning that this threatens the lives of Palestinian civilians and hostages alike. As Israel’s plans for an invasion increasingly seem inevitable, United Nations human rights experts have expressed alarm about the possibility of “genocide” in Gaza, while Israeli officials have announced that the lives of civilians and hostages would only be “secondary” considerations. CJPME urges Canada to publicly oppose Israel’s plans for further escalation and demand an immediate ceasefire.

“A ground invasion is the last thing Canada would want if its priorities are truly the protection of civilians and the safe release of hostages,” said Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “Israel’s expected invasion puts us at the edge of an unfathomable human catastrophe. The only way to secure the safety of innocent Palestinians and Israelis is to call for a cessation of hostilities,” added Woodley.

The taking of civilians as hostages is strictly prohibited by international law, which demands that they be released. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN Commission of Inquiry have argued that these actions by Hamas, in addition to the deliberate killing of civilians, amount to war crimes. Comments from Israeli leaders, however, suggest that the protection and release of hostages is not a priority in its military response. Israel’s Economy Minister Nir Barakat said yesterday that hostages and civilian casualties would be “secondary” concerns in a land invasion, and far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has said that the military should “hit Hamas brutally and not take the matter of the captives into significant consideration.” CJPME argues that, if anything, further escalation will only put the lives of hostages in further jeopardy.

CJPME points out that Israel’s military response in Gaza amounts to illegal collective punishment of the civilian population as a whole. Indiscriminate Israeli airstrikes – at times targeting even schools, mosques, churches, hospitals, ambulances, and apartment buildings – have killed over 4,000 Palestinians, about 40 percent of them children. Israel’s ‘total siege’ – illegal under international law – has cut off access to water, food, electricity, fuel, and medicines to civilians, bringing the health of the population to the brink of death. Yesterday, a group of seven United Nations human rights experts warned: “We are sounding the alarm: There is an ongoing campaign by Israel resulting in crimes against humanity in Gaza … [and] a risk of genocide against the Palestine people.” Today, CJPME joined Palestinian human rights groups, international civil society organizations, and genocide scholars, in a joint statement urging the International Criminal Court to take action to prevent genocide in Gaza.

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

The whole or parts of this press release can be reproduced without permission.