Israel news: Canada called to evacuate citizens

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Canada’s Official Opposition Conservatives are calling for the federal government to immediately send evacuation flights to bring home Canadian citizens stranded in Israel.

Now into its fourth day, the fighting sparked by Hamas’ incursion into Israel and Israeli reprisal strikes has killed and stranded thousands, including Canadian citizens. 

Canadian travellers in Israel have told CTV News that they’re unable to find a way home, amid airline cancellations and challenges receiving assistance from the embassy despite Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s assertion that consular capacity has been increased.

According to Joly, 2,500 Canadians are registered with the embassy in Israel, including 500 in Gaza and the West Bank.

“More than 72 hours after the horrific invasion and terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, the Government of Canada is still failing to provide timely assistance to Canadians seeking help to leave the country,” said Conservative MP and foreign affairs critic Michael Chong in a statement.

He said despite Joly’s assurances, MPs are hearing many stories of Canadians whose calls and emails for help are being left unresolved, while other countries such as Poland and Brazil have sent aircraft to evacuate their citizens.

“Canada has not. The government has failed to learn the lesson from the fall of Kabul in August 2021,” Chong said, calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “immediately order the dispatch of aircraft to evacuate Canadians wanting to leave Israel.”

The federal NDP has yet to call specifically for Canadian evacuation flights, but in a statement over the weekend pushed for Canada “to do everything in its power to ensure the protection of civilians and respect for international law.”

CTV News has reached out to Global Affairs Canada for comment on potential further assistance, including evacuation flights.

In an email to CTV News, the Department of National Defence confirmed that all Canadian Armed Forces members contributing to multinational missions in the region are “safe and accounted for.”

“Canadian government officials in Israel are in contact with local authorities to confirm and gather additional information and are working around the clock to provide emergency consular assistance to Canadians in these difficult times,” said spokesperson Andrée-Anne Poulin.

“The Government of Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely, and we are in touch with our international partners to restore peace and security in the region.”

With files from CTV News’ Megan DeLaire and Daniel Otis

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