Humanitarian sea corridor can’t bypass the need to end Israel’s siege on Gaza: CJPME

Montreal, March 14, 2024 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is raising concerns about the serious limitations of Canada’s participation in a “humanitarian sea corridor” to Gaza, as announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Joly on March 10. This follows Canada’s announcement of support for humanitarian airdrops into Gaza. CJPME argues that while every avenue for aid is critically needed, these schemes by sea and air are inadequate and do not address the central problem: Israel’s policy of total siege. CJPME urges Canada to impose sanctions on Israel to force an end to the siege and blockade of Gaza.

“Sanctions, not inefficient aid schemes, are necessary to overcome Israel’s deliberate policy of using starvation as a weapon,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. “The problem is not logistical, but political. As Israel intentionally starves Palestinians to death, Canada should not be distracted by schemes which skirt around the core issues. Only the application of maximum pressure through sanctions can force Israel to end its genocidal restrictions,” added Bueckert.

On March 10, Minister Joly confirmed that Canada would be joining the international coalition to create a humanitarian sea corridor from Cyprus to Gaza, also known as the “Amalthea Initiative.” It is not yet clear how aid will be brought to shore, nor how it will be distributed once on land. Significantly, this project will be closely coordinated with Israel, and Israel will inspect/restrict the aid shipments in Cyprus, allowing Israel to continue to exercise control over the movement of goods. On a parallel and apparently related track, the US has announced it is creating a floating pier off the Gaza coast to deliver aid, subject to Israeli military involvement, which will take up to 60 days and 1,000 troops to construct and implement. Human rights and humanitarian organizations have warned that the eventual aid shipments “will suffer from the same obstacles that aid convoys from Rafah are currently facing: persistent insecurity, high rate of access denial by Israeli forces, and excessive waits at Israeli checkpoints.”

CJPME notes that the Israeli government has welcomed these initiatives by sea precisely because they will continue to exercise a veto on what and how many goods enter the occupied territory, and see it as a way to meet their military goals. CJPME warns that this arrangement could facilitate the further isolation of Gaza by allowing Israel to shut down the land borders to aid completely, and may help prepare the grounds for a Rafah invasion. Further, CJPME notes that the scheme for a floating pier is eerily similar to plans recently advanced by Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz for the creation of an artificial island which would host a port and other infrastructure under Israeli military control (connected to the land by a bridge).

“Instead of challenging Israel’s siege, Canada is cooperating in a US-Israel plan which will allow Israel to maintain control over what goes in and out. This is a re-arrangement of the siege, not an end. It is uncertain whether this scheme will improve aid access in the short-term, but it is clear that it is serving Israel’s own political interests amid a genocidal campaign,” said Bueckert.

CJPME has also previously raised concerns about Canada’s support for humanitarian airdrops into Gaza, noting that airdrops are expensive, provide a significantly lower volume of aid than trucks, that there is no infrastructure for distribution on the ground, and that they are dangerous. Last week, 5 Palestinians were killed in Gaza by airdropped packages when the parachutes failed to deploy, and yesterday an airdrop damaged solar power panels on the Baptist hospital.

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

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

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