Montreal, November 21, 2023 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) welcomes the temporary Qatar-mediated truce announced between Israel and Hamas, and urges the Canadian government to leverage this momentum to push for a permanent ceasefire. The multi-day truce deal will provide temporary relief in the fighting, an increase in humanitarian aid, and secure the release of some Palestinian prisoners and Israeli hostages. The deal was approved by the Israeli cabinet and is expected to come into effect on Thursday. CJPME warns that this truce must not be allowed to end with the resumption of Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment and siege of Gaza, but must lead to a complete cessation of hostilities and an end to the occupation and siege – a full ceasefire.
“We celebrate the pending release of Palestinians and Israelis from unjust captivity, but we can’t allow Israel to slide back into its genocidal campaign of indiscriminate bombardment and ethnic cleansing,” said Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “Israel’s siege has turned Gaza into a pile of rubble and despair. We cannot allow Israel to complete its destruction of Gaza’s medical system. Gaza is hanging on by a thread, and it is the international community’s responsibility to protect it,” added Woodley.
CJPME notes that the temporary truce reportedly features several elements that will provide short-term necessary but inadequate relief:
- There will be a temporary pause in hostilities for 4 or 5 days, after which Israel says that it intends to resume its war on Gaza. There are reports that Israeli air operations may continue in northern Gaza during this time.
- Israel will release about 150 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children. There are over 10,000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, many of them political prisoners, many held indefinitely without charge or trial, and most held in Israel (transferred outside of the occupied territories in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention). Of these, there are 200 Palestinian children who have been arrested since October 7.
- Hamas will release 50 Israeli women and children who are held hostage. The taking of civilians as hostages is a violation of international law.
- Israel will allow an increase in humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Egypt, including fuel, with up to 300 trucks a day. This is lower than the average 500 trucks a day that were entering Gaza during the blockade as it existed before Oct 7, and far lower than what is necessary to address, let alone reverse, the worsening humanitarian catastrophe.
Canada has consistently refused to call for a complete ceasefire in Gaza despite the astronomical death toll, and CJPME warns that the Liberal government is likely to support a resumption of hostilities following the end of this truce. A previous comment by Canada’s UN Ambassador Bob Rae expressed “Let the killing and bombing be paused long enough for the hostages to be released,” implying that Canada would support a full resumption of the killing and bombing of Gaza’s civilians after meeting this objective.
CJPME points out that as early as Oct. 7, Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate assault has been in violation of international law. “Even with a pause in fighting, the damage that Israel has inflicted on Gaza’s health and social systems will take decades to recover from, and it is likely that thousands more Palestinians could die from a lack of safe water, shelter, medicine, and health services,” said Woodley. “Many Israeli officials have made it clear that their objective in Gaza is to push the population into Egypt, erasing Palestinian society off the map. We need Canada to stand up and demand an end to Israel’s senseless and inhumane violence.”
More than 14,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including more than 5,600 children, with another 6,800 people who are either missing under the rubble or whose bodies have yet to be identified. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said yesterday that “we are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I have been Secretary-General.” Last week, 36 UN human rights experts warned that Israel’s violations against Palestinians in Gaza “point to a genocide in the making.”