Ottawa to begin airlifting Canadians out of Israel in ‘coming days,’ minister says | CBC News

Ottawa to begin airlifting Canadians out of Israel in ‘coming days,’ minister says | CBC News


Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says the federal government will be airlifting Canadians out of Israel as the country’s war with Hamas rages on.

PM Trudeau and other politicians condemn expressions of support for Hamas

Christian Paas-Lang · CBC News


Mourners in Israel gather at a funeral for an Israeli soldier.

Mourners react during the funeral of Israeli soldier Benjamin Loeb, a dual Israeli-French citizen, in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Loeb was killed on Saturday as the militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel. (Francisco Seco/The Associated Press)

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says the federal government will be airlifting Canadians out of Israel as the country’s war with Hamas rages on.

Hamas militants launched attacks into Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip over the weekend, killing hundreds and abducting dozens. Militants have continued to launch rockets from Gaza. In response, Israel has declared war on Hamas and has carried out a series of airstrikes in Gaza. An estimated 1,900 people have died on both sides.

In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, Joly said military aircraft will begin evacuation flights from Tel Aviv “in the coming days.” Flights will be available for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.

My message to Canadians in Israel, West Bank and Gaza:


The government is looking into other options to assist those who cannot reach the Tel Aviv airport, Joly said. More details are expected to be announced tomorrow.

The federal government is weighing plans to get Canadians out of the country by sea and land, sources told Radio-Canada earlier Tuesday. News of a possible airlift was first reported by The Toronto Star.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) said Tuesday that more than 3,200 Canadians in Israel and nearly 500 in Gaza and the West Bank have registered with the department.

The department also said it’s aware of reports that one Canadian has died and three others have gone missing in the attacks. On Tuesday, Vancouver MP Taleeb Noormohamed said a man in his riding had been killed. GAC said it was aware of reports of a second death as well.

Canadian politicians from across the political spectrum gathered at solidarity rallies in support of Israel on Monday.

In Ottawa, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre attended a rally in support of Israel.

Two men look ahead.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre listen to speeches at a rally in support of Israel at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa on Monday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

“Canada unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms condemns these terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas. We stand with Israel and reaffirm our support for Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law,” Trudeau said Monday night.

Trudeau said he was horrified by the Hamas attack on an outdoor concert and by reports of kidnappings and gun assaults targeting civilians. Hamas says it still has roughly 130 Israeli hostages.

“These acts are sickening and completely unimaginable. We demand the liberation of the hostages and urge that they are treated in conformity with international law,” Trudeau said in a mix of English and French.

In Canadian cities, as in many other countries, rallies were held over the weekend expressing support for an independent Palestinian state. Some rally attendees disavowed Hamas, while others refused to condemn its actions.

WATCH | Justin Trudeau addresses pro-Israel gathering:

Trudeau speaks at Israel solidarity event

Featured VideoPrime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers remarks at an Ottawa-area event designed to show solidarity with Israelis amid an ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Trudeau mentioned those rallies in his speech Monday.

“Let me be very clear. Hamas terrorists are not a resistance. They aren’t freedom fighters, they are terrorists. And no one in Canada should be supporting them, much less celebrating them,” he said.

Poilievre also spoke at the event Monday, expressing support for Israel and condemning Hamas.

“The incredible carnage that this terrorist death cult has unleashed in the last 72 hours would be bad enough, were it not for the apparent pleasure and sadistic pride with which it was carried out,” Poilievre said.

WATCH | Pierre Poilievre’s speech to pro-Israel solidary rally:

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre addresses pro-Israel rally

Featured VideoConservative Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks at a rally in Ottawa expressing solidarity with Israelis as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues after a weekend of violence.

“Hamas does not speak for the Palestinian people, it does not speak for Muslims and it surely does not speak for Canadians. And that is why I unreservedly condemn any and all who took part in the disgusting celebrations that we have seen on our streets.”

Poilievre also focused some of his speech Monday on the possible involvement of Iran, specifically the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). Iran has long been one of Hamas’s most important allies.

The Conservative leader questioned how Hamas had been able to arm and organize itself to the point where it could execute the large-scale attacks over the weekend.

WATCH | Foreign ministers discuss ongoing Israel-Hamas fighting:

Canada focused on efforts to de-escalate Israel-Hamas conflict, minister says

Featured Video‘We support Israel’s right to defend itself according to international law. Hostages must be released and, of course, civilians must be protected,’ said Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. ‘My priority is to protect Canadians and also to work diplomatically to try to find a solution to de-escalate.’

“It’s clear to me that the regime of Iran has been the greatest actor of evil and terrorism on the world stage, and we must work day and night to defeat that regime,” Poilievre said. Iran denies it played any role in helping to orchestrate the attacks.

Poilievre called on the federal government to designate the IRGC a criminal entity. The government has imposed travel restrictions on the top echelon of the IRGC, but former justice minister David Lametti called a designation under the Criminal Code a “blunt instrument.”

My message in Toronto this evening: Canada’s support for Israel is steadfast—and we stand with those who are mourning the loss of so many lives following Hamas’ barbaric terrorist attacks.


In Toronto, several other federal politicians joined a pro-Israel rally, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. She noted the wide range of politicians in attendance, including MPs, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

“But tonight, we are here as Canadians,” Freeland said.

“It’s so important for us to recognize how serious, how terrible, the events that we’re here to recognize are, and for us to speak as Canadians, with one voice to the world.”

Consular access

Poilievre also said that Canadians stranded in the conflict zone must receive high-quality consular services.

Over the weekend, there was some controversy over whether Canadians in the region had access to the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv. People reported being diverted to hotlines or told that the embassy was closed or working on holiday hours, according to The Canadian Press.

Speaking to CBC’s Power & Politics, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said the embassy had been in operation over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

On Monday, a group of powerful Western nations, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Italy, released a statement expressing “steadfast and united support” for Israel and “unequivocal condemnation of Hamas.” The statement was organized under the banner of the “Quint” informal international grouping.

A Canadian official speaking on the condition of anonymity said Canada was not asked to join the statement, but downplayed the importance of its inclusion, noting Canadian statements were in lockstep with its international allies.

In a statement, the White House National Security Council said U.S. President Joe Biden “organized a call with European leaders in the Quint Format, which we use regularly for consultations, and we also continue to co-ordinate closely with our Canadian allies.”

What questions do you have about the conflict? Send an email to


Christian Paas-Lang covers federal politics for CBC News in Ottawa as an associate producer with The House and a digital writer with CBC Politics. You can reach him at

    With files from Alexander Panetta, Mark Gollom, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press


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