Canada: Concrete actions needed now to stop Israeli ground invasion of Rafah


Sitrep Gaza 18 February 2024

Prevention of Genocide Special Adviser speaks out

Earlier in the week, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, UN Special Adviser on the prevention of genocide, said in a statement:

The risk of commission of atrocity crimes should a full military incursion into Rafah take place, is serious, real and high.

More Israeli destruction – UNRWA facility for visually impaired children

In a social media post, UNRWA says its facility for visually impaired children has been totally destroyed:

Refugee camp being built on Egyptian side of border

On the Egyptian reaction to the impending ground invasion, the Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor had this to say:

Egypt, for its part, has fortified its border with Gaza and does not want to see a million Palestinian refugees pouring over it — out of its own security concerns, but also due to long-standing Arab fears that this would facilitate the de facto ethnic cleansing of Gaza by Israel.

Still, as my colleagues reported Thursday, satellite imagery shows that Egypt has cleared and put up a concrete wall around a large plot of land along the border. This may be the site of a potential refugee camp.

Joint Canada, Australia, New Zealand statement

Palestinian civilians cannot be made to pay the price of defeating Hamas. – PM Trudeau

Late on 13 February 2024 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office issued an important new statement, in conjunction with Australia and New Zealand, on the situation in Rafah available HERE.

The statement unequivocally calls for Israel not to proceed with a ground offensive in Rafah and reminds Israel of its “binding” obligations under the ICJ’s recent ruling:

There is growing international consensus. Israel must listen to its friends and it must listen to the international community. The protection of civilians is paramount and a requirement under international humanitarian law. Palestinian civilians cannot be made to pay the price of defeating Hamas.

An immediate humanitarian ceasefire is urgently needed. Hostages must be released. The need for humanitarian assistance in Gaza has never been greater. Rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian relief must be provided to civilians. The International Court of Justice has been clear: Israel must ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian assistance and must protect civilians. The Court’s decisions on provisional measures are binding. comments:

We commend this forthright statement and urge Canada to back up these strong words with concrete actions, including in particular the suspension of all exports of military goods to Israel whether directly or via the United States.

Parliamentary Secretary critical of Canada’s Gaza policy, especially UNRWA defunding

In a 15 February 2024 CBC article entitled Key Liberal MP rips his government’s policy on Gaza war in private call with constituent, Evan Dyer reveals the depth of concerns held by Rob Oliphant, Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Minister Joly, over his government’s handling of the war in Gaza, the genocide case against Israel and the decision to defund a UN relief agency [UNRWA] in the middle of a famine:

When I read that we were pausing money to UNRWA — I’m going to be very clear — it was political. And I don’t just mean domestic politics. It has to do with our allies…. I thought it was the wrong decision.

Canada was the second country in the world to suspend its funding for UNRWA, following the United States. It did so in response to an Israeli claim that 12 or 13 UNRWA staff had participated in various capacities in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Oliphant said on the call that even if the Israeli allegation is true, he doesn’t agree with the Trudeau government’s response.

You don’t stop aid to Gaza because of 12 or 13 employees out of 13,000. It drives me crazy…. It is opportunistic, it is unfair, and it is maligning the operation of a UN organization that is doing, not perfect work — there’s no organization that’s made of human beings that’s perfect, UNRWA has its faults. But it is the best we have for education, for medical care, for food, all of those things.

Oliphant also deeply critical of Canada’s hitherto unclear stance on ICJ case

there should be no weaseling – Rob Oliphant

During the call, which was taped without Oliphant’s knowledge, the Liberal MP also criticized the government’s statement in response to South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice that

Our support for the ICJ does not mean that we accept the premise of the case brought by South Africa.

Oliphant told his constituent:

I would not have done what the government did and I advised them not to do that, because I knew it would be misunderstood, and I think it was misunderstood as not agreeing with South Africa’s case, and that could be perceived as not believing they should bring the case.

He added that, going forward:

Now we should engage in every single piece of work to ensure that we, as signatories to the conventions, are abiding with [them]…. there should be no weaseling. comments:

The sting of Oliphant’s critique was no doubt allayed by the fact that before the story broke, the Liberals, in their joint statement with Australia and New Zealand, finally issued, as we noted above, an unequivocal call for Israel to respect the “binding” rulings of the ICJ.

The statement was equally forthright in opposing an Israeli ground invasion in Rafah.

Oliphant says Israel is ‘probably’ engaged in ‘genocidal activity’

Perhaps the most explosive comment made by Rob Oliphant was to offer his own opinion on the merits of the case against Israel:

Do I believe there’s genocidal activity on the part of Israel? Probably yes, from what I have seen.

Oliphant stressed that he’s not a legal expert and he was giving his own view, rather than that of the government.

The CBC article also indicates that Oliphant seriously considered quitting but was persuaded by a staffer to stay on

because there needs to be a voice on the inside, not just on the outside.

Prime Minister reacts to Oliphant critique of Gaza policy

In a separate CBC story, Darren Major writes that

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skirted the question Thursday when he was asked whether one of his key MPs should stay in his parliamentary secretary role after railing against the government’s approach to the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Perhaps the Prime Minister was influenced by Oliphant’s insightful comments regarding Jewish Canadians.

First underscoring the need to be sensitive to the feelings of Canada’s Jewish population and the “intergenerational trauma” caused by the Holocaust, Oliphant added:

Ninety to 95 per cent of Canada’s Jews are behind Israel right now…. I understand it.

But I also understand that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is hurting Israel. Not only killing Gazans, but hurting Israel.

So for the love of Israel, tell him to stop.

This approach was reflected in the joint statement where Israel was urged to “listen to its friends”.

Additional comments by Australia and New Zealand cabinet ministers

The foreign minister of New Zealand, Winston Peters, said the conflict had escalated beyond the right for Israel to defend itself, and the international request was for the offensive “to not go a step further”, RNZ reported.

He further stated:

The level of inhumanity is out of all proportion now. The reality is you can’t justify this. That’s the view of the mass majority of the countries in the world now, including the people we’ve been talking to.

Earlier on Thursday, Ed Husic, a cabinet minister in the Albanese government of Australia, said it was “hard to see” how Israel could formulate a credible plan for an assault on Rafah while protecting civilians.

The whole notion that you would conduct military action in there with vulnerable people, particularly women and children, is unfathomable.

French President Macron opposes Rafah offensive

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that France opposes an Israeli offensive in Rafah.

According to the Elysée, Macron told Netanyahu of France’s

firm opposition to an Israeli offensive in Rafah, which could only lead to a humanitarian disaster of a new magnitude, as with any forced displacement of populations…

In the call, Macron added that Israeli military action

would constitute violations of international humanitarian law and would pose an additional risk of regional escalation.

Spain and Ireland seek urgent review of EU-Israel trade deal

The prime ministers of Spain and Ireland have written to authorities in Brussels, voicing deep concerns over possible violations of human rights law by Israel in Gaza, which in turn would constitute a breach of its trade agreement with the European Union.

In a letter sent to the commission on Wednesday, 14 February 2024, the two leaders pointed out that respect for human rights and democratic values was “an essential element” of the trade deal with Israel and demanded an “urgent review”. comments:

While it is unlikely the EU will take timely action, given the divisions over Israel among member states and the shocking bias exhibited by European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, even the prospect of negative trade implications should cause Israel to take note.

Israeli Foreign Minister addresses Munich Conference

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on 16 February 2024, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said:

Israel does not want to harm civilians, so we move them to safe zones while Hamas tries to prevent it….

The media reporting of the conference does not indicate if anyone present asked Minister Katz if he could shed more light on the location of the alleged safe zones.

Canada and Palestinian statehood

It’s time for Canada to do more, to build a peaceful resolution for the people of Palestine and the people of Israel – NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson

On Tuesday, 13 February 2024, NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson introduced “Motion 113 State of Palestine” in the House of Commons, which reads as follows:


(a) the House recognize that,

(i) the right of peoples to self-determination is enshrined in legally-binding treaties to which Canada is party, including the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights,

(ii) Canada’s official foreign policy states that Canada recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and supports the creation of a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic, and territorially contiguous Palestinian state, as part of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace settlement,

(iii) the State of Palestine is recognized by 139 (72%) of 193 UN member states,

(iv) the State of Palestine meets all the requirements of statehood according to the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States,

(v) while resolving the current crisis requires not only a ceasefire, but a fair, viable, and lasting peace settlement negotiated between Palestinian and Israeli parties, the right of the Palestinian people to statehood, being a globally recognized right in the nature of a peremptory norm of international law, derogation from which is not permitted and which is of erga omnes character, is not legally susceptible to being made subject to negotiation; and

(b) in the opinion of the House, the government should officially recognize the State of Palestine.

The text of the motion makes clear that Palestinian statehood is an international legal right that “is not legally susceptible to being made the subject of negotiation” despite this being the de facto position of the US and most Western countries, including Canada.

Two Liberals are among the 19 seconders of the motion

There are 19 seconders to the motion, including two Liberal MPs — Salma Zahid, Scarborough Centre, and Arielle Kayabaga, London West — and two Greens — Elizabeth May, Saanich-Gulf Islands and  Mike Morrice, Kitchener Centre.

Given the parliamentary timetable, a vote on the motion is not expected “anytime soon”.

According to the CBC, the Opposition Conservatives did not respond when asked if they would endorse the motion, while Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s office, apparently unmoved by her Parliamentary Secretary’s anti-weaseling critique, did not directly answer the question.

Canada currently recognizes the Palestinian territories as entities separate from Israel, but not as a state unto themselves.

Palestine has a diplomatic delegation and ambassador that are fully recognized by Ottawa but not as representatives of a country — much the way the European Union ambassador is recognized by Ottawa.

Regarding Canada’s rather contradictory and legally dubious policy, Heather McPherson stated:

I’ve never understood how the Liberals or the Conservatives can say that they believe in a two-state solution and not recognize two states.

Mona Abuamara, the Palestinian Ambassador to Canada, has been saying for months that Ottawa should do as the NDP are urging and formally recognize Palestine as a state. comments:

We commend the NDP for this motion and reiterate our call to the Government of Canada to immediately recognize the state of Palestine, to make clear that Canada is committed to the earliest possible achievement of a viable “two-state solution” for Israel and Palestine.

The way forward – only concrete steps will do

Just as actions, not just words, are the only means now for the United States and its allies to stop an Israeli ground invasion in Rafah, so too are actions, not just words, the only possible way to achieve the stated Western goal of a

two-state solution, including the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in peace, security, and dignity.

On the issue of Palestinian statehood, Khaled Elgindy, Director of the Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs at the Middle East Institute, recently stated:

Just talking about statehood is a distraction. … It’s all smoke and mirrors. Unless they talk about ending Israel’s occupation, it doesn’t matter.

This sentiment was also expressed in a recent Al Jazeera Inside Story episode entitled What next for Gaza and the talks to end the war?

The ‘Day After’ deception

We recommend the entire discussion but will focus in this post on the comments by Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, on the Saudi–Israel normalization issue, reproducing them here in their entirety because of their importance in illuminating the pitfalls inherent in the “Day After” discussion by the US and its allies, to this point.

What the United States is proposing in relation to normalization [with Saudi Arabia] is another act of deceit. They want to repeat the same Oslo deceit, the same game. There will be a promise of some kind of movement towards some kind of a Palestinian state – and states can be of different natures – and in exchange for immediate normalization with Saudi Arabia.

What they mean is not a real Palestinian state.

We don’t buy that because what they mean is not a real Palestinian state. If they really meant that Palestinian state, they would be speaking about ending occupation immediately. They would be speaking at least about immediate, total, complete freeze of settlement activities and the removal of settlements. They would be speaking about a Palestinian state that is viable on all the Palestinian land that is occupied including East Jerusalem.

They just give you a slogan…in exchange for…normalization with Saudi Arabia

But they’re not going to do any of that. They just give you a slogan and in exchange for that slogan, they want normalization with Saudi Arabia which will be used as an instrument to serve Netanyahu’s strategy of liquidating the Palestinian issue.

Whither Canada?

We need concrete actions from Canada now to help stop Israel’s intended Rafah ground invasion, but also to support an early and irrevocable path to a viable two-state solution.  That means immediate official recognition of Palestinian statehood in accordance with Motion 113 discussed above, and it means acting immediately to suspend all military goods from Canada where Israel is the end user.

Canada must respond expansively to the FAEE’s decision to review all export permits for Israel back to 2006

On 13 February 2024, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAEE) unanimously adopted a motion from MP Heather McPherson to study Canada’s arms export permits to Israel from 2006 onward.

As we have previously underscored, this review will be incomplete if it does not include exports of military goods to the US where Israel is the end user but in respect of which Canada does not require an export permit, contrary to our obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty.

We call on Canada to take an expansive view of the Foreign Affairs Committee study and to provide all relevant information on exports of Canadian military goods where Israel is the end user.

Editor’s note: see the full list of calls for action to the Government of Canada regarding the Gaza conflict after the Ukraine Update.


Putin calls on US to negotiate end to Ukraine war

We are ready for this dialogue. – Vladimir Putin

In a New York Times article entitled Putin Calls on U.S. to ‘Negotiate’ on Ukraine in Tucker Carlson Interview, the under-banner reads:

In a two-hour interview, [with sacked former Fox News host Tucker Carlson] President Vladimir Putin of Russia was more direct than usual about how he sees his Ukraine invasion ending: not with a military victory, but a deal with the West.

NYT Moscow bureau chief Anton Troianovski writes that, at the interview’s end, Mr. Putin told Mr. Carlson that the time had come for talks about ending the war because those who are in power in the West have come to realize

that Russia will not be defeated on the battlefield. If so, if the realization has set in, they have to think what to do next. We are ready for this dialogue.

The article also indicates that, in response to Carlson’s question about whether NATO could accept Russian control over parts of Ukraine, Putin said:

Let them think how to do it with dignity. There are options if there is a will.

In the wide-ranging interview, President Putin also listed well-known grievances with the West and repeated one of his stated goals for the invasion – the “denazification” of Ukraine.

US releases information about potential Russian anti-satellite capability

According to White House national security spokesperson John Kirby, Russia has obtained a troubling” anti-satellite weapon, but the threat is not immediate, as it is not an active capability that’s been deployed and

we’re not talking about a weapon that can be used to … attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on earth.

The NYT alarmingly described it as a

new, space-based nuclear weapon designed to threaten America’s extensive satellite network.

A space-based nuclear weapon would be a violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the emplacement of weapons of mass destruction in space.

It is also useful to recall that a major impetus behind the prohibition on the emplacement of nuclear weapons in space in the first place was American high-altitude nuclear tests that showed

a nuclear detonation in space could have indiscriminate impact on all satellites in orbit.

It is more likely a nuclear-powered satellite

According to many experts, this is more likely a nuclear-powered satellite carrying electronic weapons, which nonetheless could still cause havoc on Earth by crippling satellites that drive everything from weather forecasting and phone calls to wars and the global economy.

Despite the confusion, Space News reports:

Kirby did not elaborate on whether the weapon is nuclear-powered, as some reports have indicated. He reiterated it is an anti-satellite capability still in development, only corroborated in recent weeks.

Several experts, including Bleddyn Bowen, an associate professor at England’s University of Leicester and author of “Original Sin: Power, Technology and War in Outer Space,” noted that Russia has been capable of deploying this technology

for a very, very long time.

He and others have questioned whether the release of the information may be more about politics than military threat.

malicious fabrication – Kremlin statement

Russia, for its part, downplayed the US claims, describing them as a “malicious fabrication” that was a White House ploy to try and secure the passage of a multibillion-dollar Ukrainian aid package through a resistant Republican-led House of Representatives.

Canadian expert on Ukraine conflict sees potential new Russian space capability as possible bargaining chip

let’s end this war sooner rather than later – Andrew Rasiulis on Putin’s “bargaining game”

In an interview on CBC News Network, Canadian expert Andrew Rasiulis suggested that the Russian anti-satellite threat, while still in development, could have real-world implications as a bargaining chip in potential negotiations to end the war:

This is part I think of that bargaining game right now. It [the anti-satellite weapon] is not in play in terms of actual capabilities, but they [the Russians] are showing that, ‘if the war drags on … you’re never going to get to your 1991 borders, which is what Ukraine wants, because if you ever did that, we’d go escalatory, we’d go nuclear; we could knock out satellite systems, we could blind all your GPS systems … so … let’s end this war sooner rather than later’.

New Rand study again predicts longer war would undermine Ukrainian postwar recovery

A new Rand study by Samuel Charap and Miranda Priebe again finds that a longer, more violent war could significantly undermine Ukraine’s postwar recovery. Its authors write:

Possible effects include a less prosperous Ukraine with less ability to provide for its own defense and a sluggish European economy, which could, in turn, reduce postwar support to Ukraine and hurt trade with the United States and thus U.S. growth.

Death of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny

The death of chief Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny under suspicious circumstances in a remote penal colony within the Arctic Circle, together with the Biden administration’s ongoing battle with Congress to secure new military aid for Ukraine, is likely to push prospects for serious American engagement with Ukraine on negotiations to end the war even further back, despite continuing Ukraine losses on the battlefield.

On the Gaza conflict whither Canada?

Canada has the means to impose real consequences on Israel –

As we have repeatedly emphasized, Israel will not change course without the prospect of real consequences for its grossly illegal conduct of the war in Gaza.

Accordingly, we call on the Government of Canada to suspend all transfers of military goods to Israel directly or to Israel via the United States, including Canadian-made components exported to the US for integration into the Israeli F-35I Joint Strike Fighter.

 We reiterate our calls for Canada to immediately:

  • reinstate full funding to UNRWA;
  • officially recognize the state of Palestine; and
  • call on Israel to abandon its ground invasion of Rafah and immediately comply with all aspects of the ICJ provisional orders, including in particular immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians now in desperate need.


Click HERE to sign the parliamentary e-petition calling for an end to Canadian arms transfers to Israel.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: <  >

Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly: < >; Parliamentary Secretary Rob Oliphant: < >

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen: < >

Leader of the NDP Jagmeet Singh: < >

Leader of the Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre: < >

Leader of the Bloc Quebecois Yves-François Blanchet: <>

Green Party Critic Elizabeth May: < >

And find your local Member of Parliament HERE.

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Tags: 1967 Outer Space Treaty, Alexei Navalny death, Andrew Rasiulis and Russian bargaining game, Arielle Kayabaga, Australia and Canada and New Zealand Joint Statement, Canada, FAEE Standing Committee study of Canadian arms export permits to Israel from 2006, France opposes Rafah ground invasion, House of Commons Motion 113- State of Palestine, ICJ binding rulings, Israel and genocidal activity, Munich Security Conference 2024, NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson, Parliamentary Secretary Rob Oliphant, Prevention of Genocide Special Adviser, Rafah ground invasion, Rand and Ukraine war study, Russian anti-ASAT weapon, Salma Zahid, Spain and Ireland and EU-Israel Trade deal, Ukraine Update, UNRWA funding