Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canadians in Gaza will be allowed to leave in the “coming days” as Israel continues its attacks on territory controlled by Hamas following the militant group’s deadly Oct. 7 attack.
Some 450 Canadians and their family members are in the region and have expressed a desire to leave, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) said in an update Thursday.
Foreign nationals and Palestinians have been gathering near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt for weeks, as Israel carries out airstrikes and a ground offensive against Hamas in retaliation for the militant group’s deadly surprise attack in southern Israel on October 7.
“I spoke with my Israeli counterpart @elicoh1 (Foreign Affairs Minister Eli Cohen) and received assurances that Canadians and their families will be able to leave Gaza in the coming days,” Joly said in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter. Thursday evening.
“My Egyptian counterpart confirmed their cooperation. AMC will communicate the latest information directly to Canadians.
GAC said it plans to welcome the Canadians once they cross Rafah to provide them with all necessary support, including documentation and onward travel to Canada.
“We have a team of consular officers on the ground nearby who are ready to travel to the border as quickly as possible once we receive final approval from local authorities to do so,” the department said. .
“For now, the Egyptian government is only allowing foreign embassies to visit the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing once their residents have been confirmed to be evacuated from the Gaza Strip. We continue to work with our allies and stakeholders to ensure the success of this operation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defense Minister Bill Blair echoed Joly’s comments on Friday.
“We are working with all of our regional officials and our allies to make sure that Canadians get to safety, hopefully, in the coming days,” Trudeau told reporters in Washington.
“We have been there from the very beginning for people leaving the West Bank and for people leaving Israel since October 7. We will continue to be there to help Canadians and their families stay safe.
Blair told reporters in Ottawa that he believed priority had been given to evacuating the injured and citizens of countries with small populations in the region.
“We are working very hard on this and we understand its importance and its urgency for these people and for their families,” he said.
In fashion now
‘I didn’t think this would be my home’: Lung cancer survivor warns of radon risks
Trans Mountain pipeline work blocked in British Columbia due to environmental non-compliance
Israeli authorities say 1,400 people have been killed in Israel since the Hamas attack on October 7. Additionally, around 240 hostages were taken from Israel to Gaza by the militant group.
Israel-Hamas: first evacuees flee Gaza as Rafah crossing opens briefly
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says the Israeli military response has killed more than 9,000 Palestinians to date.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to press for a humanitarian pause in the fighting. Humanitarian pauses are different from ceasefires, which include a formal agreement to end hostilities between parties involved in a conflict.
Blinken was in the region for the second time in less than a month as Washington sought to balance support for Israel in the wake of the Hamas attack with efforts to reduce the conflict’s toll on civilians.
“At the same time, let’s be clear about the importance of how Israel does this,” he said.
“It is very important, when it comes to (the) protection of civilians caught in the crossfire of Hamas, that everything is done to protect them and to provide assistance to those who so desperately need it, who are not not in a position to be responsible in any way for what happened on October 7th.
Israel said it was not targeting civilians but that Hamas was deliberately embedding itself among Gaza’s civilian population, increasing the risk of civilian casualties in strikes against the militant group.
– with files from Reuters
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.