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'We will help you': Canada to send military aircraft to evacuate citizens from Israel in 'coming days'


The Canadian government is "planning" to assist Canadians departing from Tel Aviv "in the coming days," using Canadian Armed Forces aircraft, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly announced Tuesday.

"The Canadian government will be offering these flights to Canadian citizens, their spouses, and their children; as well as Canadian permanent residents, their spouses and their children," Joly said. "We are also working on additional options for those who cannot reach the airport in Tel Aviv."

Now into its fourth day, the fighting sparked by Canadian-designated terrorist group 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 so far, they have been unable to find a way home, amid airline cancellations and challenges receiving assistance from the embassy despite consular capacity increasing.

"I was expecting that they would arrange some kind of exit for us as soon as possible, before things start to get worse again," said Canadian Mike Safi, speaking with CTV News Channel from a hotel in Jerusalem, about Canada's response, while noting the airlifting efforts other nations have undertaken for their citizens. 

After a day of questions and pressure from the opposition, Joly announced the news in a statement on social media, pledging more details will come Wednesday.

"I know this situation has been difficult. Many of you want to return home to your family and have no way to do so safely," Joly said of the 3,234 Canadians registered in Israel, and 478 Canadians in Gaza and the West Bank. "We will help you."

The government is imploring any Canadians in the region who have not yet registered to do so, so that embassy officials can share more information about these upcoming flights directly with them. As of Tuesday evening, CTV News had confirmed two Canadians have died, and another three remain missing.

In an accompanying statement to Joly's airlift announcement, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) noted the missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah will remain open "unless security conditions do not allow for it," and that officials in Ottawa, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon are offering emergency surge support, including fielding numerous enquiries about flight options.

"We are extremely concerned about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and the impact on civilians," GAC said. "Canadians in or around the affected area should limit their movements, follow instructions of local authorities, and shelter in place until it is safe to leave the area."


Canada's Official Opposition Conservatives had called for the federal government to immediately send evacuation flights to bring home Canadian citizens stranded in Israel, earlier on Tuesday.

"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."

NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson had also raised the issue of Canadian evacuation flights with Joly’s team.

"Of course, safety is an ongoing concern," McPherson said in a statement. "Canada should do everything in their power to help Canadians currently in Israel and in Palestine get the consular support they need. This also means working with allies on the ground so Canadians can be brought home safely."

In an earlier 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," noting there were a small number of CAF members posted to the embassy in Tel Aviv.

"Proactive measures are being taken to protect the safety and security of the deployed personnel and their families. The CAF is monitoring the situation closely and is prepared to adjust operations as required," the department said.

With files from CTV News' Megan DeLaire and Daniel Otis 




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