Gaza: Canada's role in supporting peace and humanitarian efforts

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A hand shielding a lit candle from the wind with darkness all around.

As we watch the horrors continuing to unfold in Gaza, MCC mourns the immense loss of life and continues to call for world leaders to act. We oppose the use of violence as a response to injustice or as retaliation for violence, including acts by Hamas and the Israeli military. We urge world leaders to encourage immediate de-escalation, including calling for a ceasefire and holding all parties to the same standard of international law regarding the protection of civilians and respect for human rights. Join us in prayer for all of those who have been affected by the violence.

The latest escalation of violence in the region – beginning on October 7th – included rocket and ground attacks from Hamas into Israel, killing 1,200, and the capturing of people, actions which are unconscionable and illegal under international law. The Israeli government then responded by bombing population centers in Gaza; shutting off power, water and fuel; severe restriction of humanitarian aid, forcible displacement of people in Gaza, and bombing border crossings into and out of Gaza. Sieges and collective punishment such as this are also unconscionable and illegal under international humanitarian law.

Since October, the humanitarian situation in Gaza has become catastrophic.  

More than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli Defense Forces as of January 26th, including at least 12,000 children. A child is killed every 10 minutes in Gaza. Families are being warned by Israeli forces to move, once again, forcibly displacing them into smaller and smaller areas with no guarantee of safety or return, and without the necessary infrastructure and access to services to support life. Over 90% of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million has been displaced. 

Israeli border closures and aid restrictions have resulted in extreme hunger in Gaza and growing threats of widespread famine. The medical system has entirely collapsed due to bombings of hospitals and clinics, and border closures preventing access to critical supplies. Over 69,000 injured Gazans, as well as an estimated 5,000 pregnant women, are without medical care.  

We are also deeply concerned about a rise in Israeli settler violence in the West Bank, and the escalation of violence spreading throughout the region.  

On December 12th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed Canada's support for a ceasefire and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages. We recognize that government officials listened and responded to the voices of Canadians. This action represents a needed step from Canada towards supporting an end of violence.  

Based on our faith and our decades peacebuilding experience, we believe that peace is possible and encourage the Canadian government to continue to use all its diplomatic capacities to strive for a sustainable ceasefire, support humanitarian assistance, and work for a lasting and just peace.  We  encourage Canada to support systems of accountability and ensure that Canadian presence in the region upholds international law, including reviewing and cutting Canada’s military assistance in the region to ensure that Canada is not inadvertently participating in human rights violations. As a pacifist organization, MCC encourages Canada to move federal money spent on weapons globally towards grassroots peacebuilding, not only in the Middle East, but around the world.  

We are seeing again that violence begets more violence. Both Palestinians and Israelis suffer. Many are living with a sense of fear and foreboding. Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, have faced decades of oppression through Israeli military occupation, and Jews have been harmed by systems of hatred and racism carrying through generations, driving them to live in fear of the threat of violence. Only by addressing these underlying issues can Palestinians and Israelis have a chance to live in peace and abundance on the land.  

We are grateful for Canada’s support for ceasefire and release of hostages and urge the Canadian government to continue to work for an end to the current violence. We ask the Canadian government to press for increased humanitarian aid and access, review and cancel weapons sales to Israel, and also work to address the underlying causes of violence, including Israel's military occupation and blockade.  

 

Additional Resources: FAQ: MCC and Palestine and Israel |  A Cry for Home | A Prayer for Palestine and Israel

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Hon. Michael Chong

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Conservative Party of Canada

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Garnett Genuis

Shadow Minister for International Development, Conservative Party of Canada

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Stéphane Bergeron

Porte-parole en matière d’affaires étrangères, Bloc Québécois

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Alexis Brunell Duceppe

Porte-parole pour la Coopération internationale, Bloc Québécois

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Heather McPherson

Critic for Foreign Affairs and International Development, New Democratic Party

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