Canada must stop Israel’s invasion of Rafah: CJPME

Montreal, May 7, 2024 Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is calling on the Canadian government to urgently pressure Israel to bring an immediate end to its invasion of Rafah, a move which threatens to push the civilian population of Gaza further into genocide. Although Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has repeatedly expressed “concern” about the impact of a Rafah invasion, Canada has not committed to any action that could stop this catastrophe, despite credible assessments by international legal experts that Israel’s actions in Gaza already amount to genocide. CJPME believes that Canada must urgently impose a two-way arms embargo on Israel and publicly call on Biden to do the same in the United States.

“With Israeli tanks moving into Rafah, we are now facing the horrific moment that everyone has been warning about for months,” asserted Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “Should Israel continue with this reckless and depraved campaign, we are certain to witness the death and displacement of Palestinians exceeding everything that has come so far,” continued Woodley. “It is now or never. Will Canada take concrete measures to stop this genocide, or will it stand idly by and watch? Without concrete action, the Canadian government’s wringing of hands is a continuation of its inadequate and immoral response of the past seven months.”

Monday, Israel dropped leaflets onto Rafah promising to act with “extreme force” and ordering an initial 100,000 people to evacuate, preparing the way for a long-threatened ground invasion of the city. About 1.5 million people, over half of Gaza’s population, are seeking refuge in Rafah in unimaginable conditions, and have nowhere else to go. As Oxfam has warned, Israel has repeatedly and deliberately targeted civilians and aid workers in so-called “safe” or “humanitarian” zones. Overnight, the Israeli military then took over the Rafah crossing, cutting off the occupied territory’s connection to Egypt and halting the already limited movement of goods and people. The UN warns that this closure has “choked off” Gaza’s main arteries for humanitarian access, and CJPME is further concerned that this closure will erode the ability of Palestinians to escape, including Canadians and their loved ones.

CJPME notes that Israel’s invasion of Rafah coincides with its rejection of a ceasefire proposal that was accepted yesterday by Hamas, demonstrating Israel’s consistent unwillingness to end its military campaign. For months, Canada has publicly supported Israel as Netanyahu and extremist war cabinet have vocally opposed any ceasefire agreement that would bring a permanent end to the war, and has only offered limited and temporary pauses in the fighting, after which it would resume the destruction of Gaza. Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas have accused Netanyahu of deliberately undermining ceasefire talks, and have repeatedly called for an end to the war in order to secure the release of hostages. CJPME urges the Canadian government to put pressure on Israel to accept a ceasefire deal that would secure the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners while permanently ending the war.

“So far Trudeau has been silent on Biden’s failure to reign in Israel and instead has ordered his Cabinet Ministers to misrepresent and obfuscate Canada’s arms trade relationship with Israel.  Trudeau and his cabinet have only paid lip service to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza while seemingly seeking to protect Canadian weapons and military trade with Israel,” added Woodley.

On the same day Israel invaded Rafah, CJPME and its allies launched a national campaign for Canada to impose a comprehensive two-way arms embargo on Israel using the Special Economic Measures Act. The campaign website can be found here.

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

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