Since Oct. 7, Ontario-based Palestinian-Canadian Nael Alhalees has been imploring the Canadian government to help him evacuate his family from Gaza. Alhalees’ two children Layan and Kareem are Canadian citizens, but his wife Enas is not, and the Canadian government has so far refused to put her on the evacuation list. His wife and children have moved 35 times since Oct. 7, and have gotten sick with fever and vomiting from eating tainted food and water. Unfortunately, Alhalees is not alone, as Canada continues to impose strict rules on the evacuation of extended family members of Canadian citizens.
On Dec. 4, the NDP proposed excellent new guidelines to make it easier for family members of Canadians citizens to be evacuated from Gaza. In the past, Canada has developed special rules for crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria, and it should likewise help Palestinian-Canadian families separated by Israel's brutal assault on Gaza's civilian population. Australia has already implemented such emergency, temporary measures, and Canada should do likewise.
Use the fields below to demand that the Canadian government facilitate the passage of Enas Alhalees as well as other family members of Canadian citizens from Gaza. Your email will be sent to your own MP, the Prime Minister, the Immigration Minister, other key government actors.
Nael Alhalees’ family lives in Gaza with his wife Enas and children Layan (13) and Kareem (9) but splits his time between Ontario and Gaza for business reasons. He was at their home in Burlington when the war began.
Alhalees’ children were placed on a list of foreigners allowed to leave Gaza in mid-November his Enas was not. As such, the three are stuck in Gaza even as Israel intensifies its attacks in the south of Gaza, where they have taken refuge in a UN school. Since Oct. 7, the family has changed locations 35 times. During this time, they have come under live fire several times, are down to one meal per day, and have gotten sick – with fever and vomiting – from consuming bad food and water. Like many in his situation, Alhalees has been in touch with Global Affairs Canada (GAC), but they imply that they can do nothing about the situation.
The life-and-death dilemma faced by the Alhalees family is repeated many times over for other Canadians with family in Gaza.
CJPME believes that GAC’s excuses are unacceptable, and that Canada must 1) loosen its rules for family reunification for Canadians with family in Gaza, 2) urgently leverage its strong relationship with the US, Egypt and Israel to ensure passage for Canadians and their family members.
Immigration Minister Marc Miller has said he is considering options to enable family members of Canadians to exit Gaza. Yet more than two months after Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza began, the government still imposes strict rules. Canada’s family reunification guidelines exclude parents, siblings or adult children over the age of 22. Even with the current rules – which are limited to spouses, children and common-law partners of Canadians – Alhalees’ wife should be able to exit.
When Ukraine was invaded by Russia, Canada offered an unlimited number of temporary visas to Ukrainians and their family members. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021, Canada offered refuge to the extended family members of Afghans who aided the Canadian military during the war. Canada also made exceptions during the Syrian civil war. Refusal to enable similar such exceptions to family members of Palestinian-Canadians suggests there is a double-standard on how Canada makes such decisions, with extreme bias against Palestinians.
In comparison, Australia has issued more than 800 temporary visas for family members of Palestinian-Australians.
When confronted in Parliament on the issue earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly avoided answering the question.