Skip to main content

'It will get worse before it gets better': Joly on Israel conflict; says 3 Canadians reported missing


The escalating conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip will definitely worsen before any improvement is seen, Canada's foreign affairs minister told CTV News Chief Political Correspondent Vassy Kapelos on Monday.

Speaking to CTV's Power Play, Melanie Joly said that she has been in contact with her counterparts in Israel, the Gaza Strip and neighbouring countries searching for a way to de-escalate the volatile situation, which has already killed nearly 1,600 people on both sides.

"We've received reports of one Canadian dead and also three missing, so that's information I can provide you at this point," Joly said. "And of course, my thoughts and my heart is with those who are affected by this multi-front terrorist attack against the Israeli people."

Joly said that they are in contact with the families involved.

On Sunday, Global Affairs Canada said it was aware of reports that one Canadian had died and two were missing.

Hamas militants launched a surprise attack in Israel on Saturday, striking numerous Israeli towns on the border with the Gaza Strip, as well as a music festival, killing hundreds in the process.

In the days since, Israel has responded by increasing its bombardment of the Gaza Strip and sealing it off from food, water, fuel and other supplies.

According to media reports and local authorities, around 900 people have been killed in Israel and more than 680 people have been killed in Gaza, with thousands wounded on both sides. Hamas and other militants in Gaza say they have taken more than 130 soldiers and civilians from inside Israel hostage.


When asked about comments made Sunday by Bob Rae, Canada's ambassador to the UN, who asserted that he believes Iran was involved in the Hamas attack in Israel, Joly said she would not "speculate on the involvement of Iran.

"At this point, I'm doing the diplomatic work along with many of my colleagues to make sure that there's de-escalation and that the conflict doesn't become broader within the region," she said.

Although Canada is focused on de-escalation, it's not going to be easy, Joly said.

"It will get worse before it gets better, we know that," she said. "And that was clear also through my conversations with my Israeli counterpart.

"We believe in Israel's right to defend itself against this multi-front terrorist attack by Hamas. It needs to do so, of course, according to international law. Hostages must be released. Civilians must be protected."


The death toll seen in the region over the last three days is the largest since Israel's 1973 war with Egypt and Syria, also known as the Yom Kippur War.

The bloody incursion by Hamas over the weekend included gunmen opening fire at a music festival, with video posted on social media showing people fleeing in terror.

At least 260 people were killed and it is believed to be the worst civilian massacre in Israeli history.

Bodies are still being found in Israel from the initial attack by Hamas, with rescue workers locating 100 bodies in a farming community near the border of the Gaza Strip on Monday.

Israeli airstrikes launched in retaliation have flattened some residential buildings already in the Gaza Strip, where 2.3 million people live. UNICEF estimates that children make up 47 per cent of the population in the Gaza Strip.

As Israel amasses tanks near openings in the fence around the Gaza Strip to prevent further incursions, the question is looming of whether or not a ground assault into Gaza might be next — something that hasn't been seen since 2014.

On Monday, Israel announced a "complete siege" of Gaza, cutting off the already blockaded Gaza Strip from food, water, fuel, electricity and other supplies. Residents of the impoverished region, which has been called "an open-air prison" by Human Rights Watch, have been under a blockade since 2007, which restricts the movement of goods and people in and out of the region.

Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Israel says the closure is needed to prevent Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, from building up its military capabilities.

"We have only started striking Hamas," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a nationally televised address Monday. "What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations."

Hamas announced on Monday that it would begin executing Israeli captives if Israel targeted any civilians in Gaza "without prior warning."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a rally in support of Israel, at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa, Oct. 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang


At a solidarity gathering for Israel held in Ottawa Monday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that Canada "unequivocally, and in the strongest possible terms condemns these terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas."

Canada has designated Hamas as a terrorist group since 2002.

"The attacks this weekend were brutal," Trudeau said. "We've heard stories of people who were there at the music festival for peace when gunmen started shooting. Images of parents shielding their children to protect them from rockets. Women and kids being forced out of their homes and kidnapped."

He concluded by reiterating the need for civilians to be protected during the fighting, and for international law to be upheld.

"We stand with you my friends, tonight, tomorrow and every day," he said.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also spoke at the event, referring to Hamas as a "sadistic, demonic genocidal terrorist death cult," while calling for an investigation into the co-ordination of the attack. He theorized that Iran may have been involved.

"Hamas does not speak for the Palestinian people. It does not speak for Muslims and it surely does not speak for Canadians," he said, adding that he condemns "the disgusting celebrations that we have seen on our streets," seemingly in reference to pro-Palestinian rallies.

A Toronto rally was held Monday in Nathan Phillips Square, with an estimated 1,000 people waving flags and chanting, "Palestine will be free."

A Monday statement from Heather McPherson, the NDP critic for foreign affairs, echoed the condemnation of the "unjustifiable" Hamas attack and called for "the immediate safe return of all hostages."

The statement also noted the Palestinians caught up in the violence, urging Canada to "insist Israel respect international law."

"Civilians in Gaza are caught in a horrific cycle of violence; like the Israeli civilians killed over the past few days, Gazans are victims of Hamas' brutality," McPherson wrote. "The international community, Canada included, must work towards a credible peace process that will finally bring peace and security to all in the region, while respecting the humanity and rights of all civilians, Israeli and Palestinian."


Joly said she has focused on two goals over the past few days as the increasingly charged situation unfolds.

"First has been really to support Canadians," she said. "And second, it's to really try to de-escalate, along with regional partners that I've been in contact with."

Joly has been in contact with her counterparts in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, as well as U.S. officials.

"We need to make sure that this conflict does not become even a broader conflict in the region," she said, adding that while she understands the anger of Israelis impacted by the Hamas attack, "it is important for diplomacy to work."

Joly confirmed that the embassies in Tel Aviv and Ramallah are both open for Canadians who are stranded and searching for aid.

"The team has been working since the beginning of this terrorist attack by Hamas — which of course we condemn — since Saturday," she said. "At this point, what I can tell you is there's 2,500 Canadians who've registered with the embassy in Israel, 500 … that have registered in Gaza and the West Bank, 800 calls have been received and responded (to) by the team."

In order to address the increased demand for embassy aid, Joly said they have added more staff in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, as well.

Joly said she has been in contact with the Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriguez, but there are currently no plans to fly Canadians out of the region en masse, as it may be dangerous for them to flock to airports.

"So right now, the advice is to shelter in place, so we'll continue to follow the local authorities' security advice," she said.

The phone number for Canadians to call if they are concerned about friends and loved ones in Israel or in the West Bank or Gaza Strip is 1-613-996-8885, Joly said.

"We're there for Canadians, this is our utmost priority, and that's what we're doing right now," she said.

"Meanwhile, we need to continue to engage with many countries in the region. I know that's what my American counterpart is doing, Tony Blinken, that's what also my European counterparts are doing in Germany and France, in the U.K. We're all in contact also amongst each other, because this is a very, very difficult and problematic situation."

With files from the Associated Press 




opinion Don Martin: How a beer break may have doomed the carbon tax hike

When the Liberal government chopped a planned beer excise tax hike to two per cent from 4.5 per cent and froze future increases until after the next election, says political columnist Don Martin, it almost guaranteed a similar carbon tax move in the offing. Top Stories

Local Spotlight

Stay Connected