Canada reinstates UNRWA funding on International Women’s Day


Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed more than 30,000 people, displaced more than 85% of the 2.3 million-strong population from their homes and left more than half of the strip’s infrastructure in ruins, according to data from Gaza’s health ministry and the UN. – The Guardian

US plans to build a floating port off the Gaza coast to bring in more aid

You need drivers, trucks and a distribution system that doesn’t exist. – President of Refugees International

The US plans to build a floating port off the Gaza coast on which shipborne food aid can be unloaded from ships from Larnaca, Cyprus and a causeway for it to be driven onshore. The question is, then what? Most of Gaza’s population, the majority of whom have been displaced several times over, are not concentrated at the beach.

Jeremy Konyndyk, a former senior aid official in the Biden administration and now president of the Refugees International aid advocacy group, asks:

Who is going to distribute it? [Our] presence in northern Gaza is pretty close to zero because the Israelis have wanted everyone out and then have been restricting access to the north ever since.

The proposed maritime aid corridor, Konyndyk said,

doesn’t obviate the problem of obstruction by Israel, but rather than being a problem at the entry point, now it’s going to be a problem at the distribution stage.

And then there is the problem of security

An attempted delivery on 29 February on the outskirts of Gaza City ended with the killing of at least 115 Palestinians after Israeli soldiers opened fire after people rushed for the food trucks.

Deep indignation at the images coming from Gaza where civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers. I express my strongest condemnation of these shootings and call for truth, justice, and respect for international law – French President Macron on X

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed most of the casualties had been caused by a crush, but UN officials and doctors said the overwhelming majority of injuries were gunshot wounds. The incident prompted calls for an independent inquiry from the UN and several countries, including France, Germany, the UK, Canada and Italy.

Seaport strategy follows ineffectual US airdrops of food and emergency supplies

This latest aid delivery effort by the Biden administration follows an announcement on 1 March 2024 that the US would start airdrops of food and emergency supplies into Gaza in the next few days. Critics suggested it represented no more than a gesture that obscured Biden’s reluctance to use US leverage to force Israel to be more cooperative in the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), speaking with MSNBC’s Alex Wagner on Friday, took aim at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and Biden’s support for him.

Sanders said it was his view that there should be

not another nickel for Netanyahu’s government if he’s going to continue this wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people.

Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Algeria and Syria — the first posting under former President George W. Bush and the second under former President Obama — wrote on social media Friday that

forcing USA to do airdrops of aid to Gaza … is Israel’s worst humiliation of USA I’ve ever seen.

Latest US polling on Gaza conflict puts Biden at odds with majority of Democrats

A New York Times/Siena College poll released Saturday found that, among all registered voters, people under 30 sympathized with the Palestinians over the Israelis by 51 percent to 16 percent, whereas people 65 and over favoured the Israelis 54 percent to 16 percent.

Among Democrats of all ages, a clear plurality backed the Palestinians, 42 percent to 26 percent.

According to analysts,

The complex dynamics leave Biden with little room to maneuver — and in serious need of a cease-fire very soon.

A separate analysis by Arab Digest suggests that President Biden is afraid that if he gets tough on Israel, Trump “will pounce,” claiming that the President is caving in to Hamas, which the US has decreed a terrorist organisation.

The bottom line is Biden continues to tolerate Israeli aid blockage

Jeremy Konyndyk, the humanitarian quoted above about the planned American floating port for Gaza, says he is in favour of anything that helps get aid to starving Palestinians.

He adds:

But let’s also just be realistic about why this is necessary, and it’s necessary because of five months of obstruction of access in the north by the IDF and five months of intentional degradation of humanitarian capacity in the strip.

And frankly the US has tolerated that for five months.

UNRWA chief decries “man-made crisis”

Decrying the “man-made crisis,” UNRWA Chief Philippe Lazzarini went on to say:

We know the answer. We know what needs to be done. You have about 300,000 people [in the north] right now…. Just open a crossing in the north [to let aid in], that’s it.

Whither Canadians?

Nothing could have prepared me psychologically for what I saw – Dr. Yipeng Ge

For an eyewitness account of the suffering in Gaza, and the love, hope and resilience he also found, see In the rubble, pain and forced starvation of Gaza, a Canadian doctor finds humanity, generosity and resilience (, Peter Larson, 3 March 2024).

When will we recognize the wisdom and leadership of the inspiring, world-wide Jewish community who are showing the only way to peace and justice for all? – Kathleen Ruff

For an extraordinarily powerful indictment of Canadian policy on Israel-Palestine together with a plea for our government to heed the wisdom and emulate the courage of Jewish organisations, Jewish Holocaust survivors, Jewish experts on the Holocaust and thousands of individual Jews in Canada, in the US, in Israel and around the world opposing the actions of the Israeli government and supporting human rights for all, including Palestinians, see When will we stop fuelling an endless cycle of hatred and violence? (Kathleen Ruff, and Rideau Institute Board member).

It is also available in PDF format by clicking HERE.

South Africa seeks additional emergency measures from the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The threat of all-out famine has now materialised. – Government of South Africa

According to a recent Guardian report,

The ICJ is still studying a private letter sent by the Israeli government on [26 February 2024] setting out how the government was seeking to comply with ICJ orders concerning the delivery of humanitarian aid and ending incitements to genocide.

South Africa, as the government that brought the case to the ICJ alleging plausible genocide, has a right to challenge the validity of the Israeli assurances.

In the meantime, however, South Africa on 6 March 2024 asked the International Court of Justice to order additional emergency measures against Israel.

In its new request, South Africa states that it is

compelled to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza — particularly the situation of widespread starvation — brought about by the continuing egregious breaches of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide . . . by the State of Israel . . . and its ongoing manifest violations of the provisional measures indicated by this Court on 26 January 2024.

It requests the Court to indicate further provisional measures and/or to modify the provisional measures indicated in its Order of 26 January 2024

in order urgently to ensure the safety and security of 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, including over a million children.

It further urges the Court to do so without holding a hearing, in light of the

extreme urgency of the situation.

Human rights organisations also allege non-compliance by Israel with ICJ interim order

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both allege that Israel is not complying with the interim measures ordered by the ICJ on 26 January 2024.

The statement by Amnesty International begins:

One month after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered “immediate and effective measures” to protect Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip from the risk of genocide by ensuring sufficient humanitarian assistance and enabling basic services, Israel has failed to take even the bare minimum steps to comply.

According to Human Rights Watch, rather than heed this ICJ order,

Israel continues to obstruct the provision of basic services and the entry and distribution within Gaza of fuel and lifesaving aid, acts of collective punishment that amount to war crimes and include the use of starvation of civilians as a weapon of war.

Fewer trucks have entered Gaza and fewer aid missions have been permitted to reach northern Gaza in the several weeks since the ruling than in the weeks preceding it, according to United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

US veto means UNSC cannot enforce ICJ provisional measures order

As we have indicated in previous discussions, the ICJ has no independent means of enforcing its orders. This is a role explicitly given to the UN Security Council under Article 94 of the ICJ statute, which reads as follows:

Article 94 of ICJ Statute

  1. Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice in any case to which it is a party.
  2. If any party to a case fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court, the other party may have recourse to the Security Council, which may, if it deems necessary, make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment.

Since the onset of the war in Gaza, the US has wielded its veto three times to block resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, let alone allow for any condemnatory measures against Israel. comments:

This is what impunity looks like. Israel has doubled down on its grave breaches of international law because it believes — with good reason — that the US will veto any meaningful action by the UN Security Council to hold it accountable.

What about arms transfers to Israel?

On 23 February 2024 over 40 UN experts issued a statement beginning:

Any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately.

This was followed by a letter from more than 200 legislators from 13 countries united to oppose their countries’ arms exports to Israel.

We will not be complicit in Israel’s grave violation of international law. – 200 legislators

Organised by Progressive International, a network of socialist MPs and activists focused on international justice, the signatories are all MPs in parliaments where the governments allow arms sales to Israel and include 39 UK parliamentarians, including Labour, Scottish National party, independent and Social Democrat and Labour party (SDLP) MPs.

White House sends letter to arms importers, including Israel

Axios reports that the Biden administration has given all importers of US arms, including Israel, until mid-March to sign a letter that

gives assurances it will abide by international law while using U.S. weapons.

In the case of Israel, the letter also asks for assurances that it will allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

According to an analysis in, the move follows stricter requirements the White House had outlined for arms transfers on February 8th for all allies, including having the State Department “obtain certain credible and reliable written assurances from foreign governments” that they would use those arms in accordance with international law.

The new rule was inspired by proposals from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who commented:

It’s going to be very important that the administration enforce these provisions…. The administration should be prepared to take measures as outlined in the memorandum in the event there are violations.

The memorandum includes steps to “remediate” the situation, including suspending any further transfers of defence articles or services. comments:

So this new policy is yet another stark reminder of what the Biden administration could and should be doing but is not.

Israeli allegations of Hamas systematically using rape as a weapon of war now largely debunked

On 28 December 2023, the New York Times published an article entitled ‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7 (Jeffrey Gettleman, Anat Schwartz and Adam Sella).

The under-banner read:

A Times investigation uncovered new details showing a pattern of rape, mutilation and extreme brutality against women in the attacks on Israel.

The Israeli government had made the question of systematic rape (along with unverified and subsequently debunked reports about beheaded babies) a centrepiece in its case for war.

While the Times article initially seemed like a “searing and irreproachable indictment” backing up Israel’s claims, doubts soon emerged about the article. Some concerned the unacknowledged bias of the reporters in question — in particular Anat Schwartz, who had liked a tweet calling on Israel to turn Gaza “into a slaughterhouse”. But there was also the “shaky nature” of the evidence presented.

According to Jeet Heer in The Nation:

Key sources for the article had a history of false claims. The family of one allegedly raped murder victim spoke out against the article, claiming it presented an impossible story.

Heer writes that Schwartz relied heavily on Zaka, described by The Intercept (which did a major investigation into the NYT story) as

a private ultra-Orthodox rescue organization that has been documented to have mishandled evidence and spread multiple false stories about the events of October 7, including debunked allegations of Hamas operatives beheading babies and cutting the fetus from a pregnant woman’s body. Its workers are not trained forensic scientists or crime scene experts.

Heer also writes that another major source, Shari Mendes, an IDF reservist, has repeatedly made demonstrably false claims.

According to reporting by The Intercept, a fierce internal debate emerged inside the Times itself as reporters not part of the original team found it difficult to verify many of the claims of the article.

Investigation into the New York Times scandal has also been conducted by a host of independent sites and non-affiliated journalists, notably Aaron Maté, October 7 Fact Check, Electronic Intifada and Max Blumenthal.

But The Intercept (featuring the reporting of Daniel Boguslaw, Ryan Grim, and Jeremy Scahill) has offered the most comprehensive criticism, one that builds on the work of other reporters to make a particularly damning indictment of the Times.

NYTimes fails to prove Hamas deliberately deployed sexual violence as a weapon of war

As The Intercept correctly noted, the question has never been whether individual acts of sexual assault may have occurred on October 7. Rape is all too common in war, and there were also several hundred civilians who poured into Israel from Gaza that day in a “second wave,” contributing to and participating in the mayhem and violence.

Rather, the central issue is whether

The New York Times presented solid evidence establishing that the attacks against women were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence on Oct. 7, supporting the claim that Hamas deliberately deployed sexual violence as a weapon of war.

The New York Times did not present such evidence.

Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post devoted an episode to this shocking saga of botched reporting. See The unravelling of the New York Times’ ‘Hamas rape’ story (2 Mar 2024)

Second alleged Israeli victim in NYT article not sexually abused

A new story by The Intercept, published on 4 March, begins:

Two of the three victims specifically singled out by the New York Times in a marquee exposé published in December, which alleged that Hamas had deliberately weaponized sexual violence during the October 7 attacks, were not in fact victims of sexual assault, according to the spokesperson for the Kibbutz Be’eri, which the Times identified as the location of the attack. comments:

Let us be clear, every act of sexual violence is unacceptable, unjustifiable and must be condemned and accountability sought. Bearing in mind that the Israeli military also stands credibly accused of sexual violence against Palestinian women and girls, the key point here is that the unsubstantiated — and now largely debunked — Israeli accusations against Hamas related to far more heinous, widespread and systematic conduct and were used in turn to justify the ferocity of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

For more on the continuing problem of editorial policies in mainstream media that have led to a “regurgitation of Israeli propaganda and the censoring of Palestinian perspectives” in the coverage of the Gaza war, see Veteran CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour confronted execs about Israeli influence in Gaza war coverage (, 4 March 2024).

Separate UN report finds “reasonable grounds” that Hamas committed rape on Oct. 7

A new report by Pramila Patten,  the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, states that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Hamas committed rape, “sexualized torture,” and other cruel and inhumane treatment of women during its surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

However, as the report also indicates, the mission team

did not meet with any survivor/victim of sexual violence from 7 October despite concerted efforts encouraging them to come forward.

The report also indicates that a lack of forensic evidence complicated its work.

In an article for PassBlue on the report, entitled UN Report on Oct. 7 Sexual Violence Documents Far Fewer Incidents Than Israeli Accounts (6 March 2024), Patten tells reporter Dawn Clancy that the Israeli government had talked about hundreds, if not thousands, of cases of brutal sexual violence perpetrated against men, women and children.  Patten clarifies:

I have not found anything like that.

Israel rejects cooperation with full inquiry by UN

One key recommendation in Patten’s report encourages the Israeli government to cooperate with the independent Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, set up by the UN High Commission on Human Rights, “to carry-out fully-fledged investigations” into allegations of sexual violence on Oct. 7, in contrast to the much more limited review by Patten.

In response, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan stated in a tweet:

Israel will not cooperate in any way with such a discriminatory and antisemitic body.

UNRWA Update: at last some good news!

EU donates 50 million Euros in exchange for EU auditors of UNRWA staff hiring

On 1 March 2024 the European Commission announced it will pay 50 million euros (US$54 million) to the beleaguered UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), with an additional 32 million euros to be paid in two further tranches pending reforms and the completion of the investigation into Israeli allegations that 12 staff took part in the 7 October attacks on Israel.

Canada set to resume UNRWA funding, backtracks, then reinstates it

According to a CBC News report on 6 March, the federal government intended to resume funding to UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians.

A senior government official stated on background that

In addition to going ahead with a scheduled payment in April of $25 million, Canada’s international development minister also intends to announce new funding.

The announcement was initially to have been made by International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen at a press conference at 9 am EST on 6 March that was subsequently postponed and then cancelled.

On 7 March, the updated CBC report indicated that the press conference is

expected to be rescheduled.

Late on 7 Mar 2024, a new CBC story carried the headline Trudeau non-committal about restoring funding to Palestinian relief agency UNRWA (John Paul Tasker). In the article, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is quoted as follows:

We’re not making any announcements today but we will continue to make sure Canada does the right thing in this situation and puts the protection of civilian life at the forefront. comments:

Perhaps the Prime Minister did not realize just how problematic it was to combine seeming backtracking on UNRWA funding with an assertion that he was putting the lives of desperate Gazan civilians first.

Mid-afternoon on 8 March 2024 Canada announces UNRWA funding is reinstated

In breaking news at 2:49 pm EST on 8 March 2024, CBC News reported that

The Canadian government has confirmed it will restore funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

A statement issued by Global Affairs Canada states in part:

Today, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of International Development, announced that Canada will be lifting its temporary pause on funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

UNRWA plays a vital role in Gaza, providing over 2 million people with humanitarian relief, in addition to its crucial operations supporting 4 million people elsewhere in the region. Other organizations also rely on UNRWA’s experience and infrastructure to deliver humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

Canada satisfied with information in UN Interim Report

The statement goes on to say:

Canada has reviewed the interim report of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on this matter and looks forward to the final report…. While these investigative processes continue, UNRWA has taken immediate measures to strengthen oversight, accountability and transparency.

According to the CBC report:

A senior government official said that, based on the information in that interim report, the federal government was comfortable with resuming funding.

We commend the Government of Canada for its reinstatement of UNRWA funding.

Netanyahu vows to continue with Rafah offensive as ceasefire talks falter

On 7 March, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel will not give in to international pressure to stall an attack on the southern Gaza city of Rafah and will continue its bloody offensive against Hamas, adding:

Whoever tells us not to act in Rafah is telling us to lose the war and that will not happen.

In the meantime, Hamas confirmed on Thursday that its delegation had left Cairo but said that talks would resume next week. Its statement, according to the Guardian, read in part:

Hamas’s delegation left Cairo this morning for consultation with the leadership of the movement, with negotiations and efforts continuing to stop the aggression, return the displaced and bring in relief aid to our people.

NDP Opposition motion calls for strong action in support of Gaza civilians

On 27 February 2024, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh tabled an Opposition Motion calling for the Government of Canada to:

(a) demand an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages;
(b) suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel and increase efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas;
(c) immediately reinstate funding and ensure long-term continued funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and support the independent investigation;
(d) support the prosecution of all crimes and violations of international law committed in the region, and support the work of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court;
(e) demand unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza;
(f) ensure Canadians trapped in Gaza can reach safety in Canada and lift the arbitrary cap of 1,000 temporary resident visa applications;
(g) ban extremist settlers from Canada, impose sanctions on Israeli officials who incite genocide, and maintain sanctions on Hamas leaders;
(h) advocate for an end to the decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories and work toward a two-state solution; and
(i) officially recognize the State of Palestine and maintain Canada’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist and to live in peace with its neighbours.

It will come to a vote on 18 March 2024. comments:

We strongly support these demands. Regarding the urgent need to create an irrevocable path to a two-state solution, we would add one further stipulation — that the Government of Canada join with a host of other countries, including Ireland and Belgium, and file a written statement in the proceedings of the ICJ regarding the Legal Consequences arising from the Polices and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem in support of a declaration by the Court that the Israeli occupation is illegal and should end forthwith.

Whither Canada?

We call on all Members of Parliament to support the NDP Opposition Motion set out above.

Editor’s note: See the full list of Calls for Action made to the Government of Canada regarding the Gaza conflict after the report on International Women’s Day.


Women and children in Gaza are paying a terrible, terrible price as Israel continues its carnage in Gaza. On International Women’s Day it is appropriate that we highlight the Canadian Feminist Organizations Joint Appeal for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza made on 17 November 2023.

Signed by 36 organizations from across Canada and addressed to Prime Minister Trudeau, it stated in part:

We implore the Canadian Government to wield its influence forcefully, demanding an immediate ceasefire in the occupied Gaza Strip and Israel.

Their call, and that of countless other Canadians, was finally heeded on 12 December 2023 when Canada voted for a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in the Israel-Hamas war.

Government statement to mark International Women’s Day proclaims Canada’s commitment to the health of women and children

The Prime Minister’s statement to mark International Women’s Day 2024 underlines Canada’s commitment to “improving the health and rights of women and children” even as Israel lays waste to virtually every hospital in Gaza. The only reference to conflict relates to Canada’s efforts to increase the number of female peacekeepers.

RI President Peggy Mason comments:

When the statement marking International Women’s Day was first released, it seemed like a grotesque counterpoint to the Prime Minister’s backtracking on the reinstatement of UNRWA funding. His rectification of that grievous error is Canada’s real tribute to International Women’s Day 2024.

Whither Canada on the Gaza Conflict?

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. Nor will it ever negotiate in good faith for a two-state solution in the absence of real and substantial costs for failing to do so.

Accordingly, we again call on the Government of Canada to suspend all transfers of military goods to Israel directly or to Israel via the United States.

 We also reiterate our calls for Canada to immediately:

  • officially recognize the state of Palestine;
  • 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; and
  • support other measures in the NDP Opposition Motion regarding a ban on extremist settlers and sanctions on Israeli officials who incite genocide.

To begin to create an irrevocable path toward a two-state solution, we call on the Government of Canada to:

  • intervene in the ICJ case on Israeli’s occupation of Palestinian territories in support of a declaration by the Court that the occupation is illegal and should end forthwith.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: <  >

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

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen: < >

Leader of the NDP Jagmeet Singh: < >; NDP Foreign Affairs critic Heather McPherson: < >

Leader of the Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre: < >; Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Michael Chong: < >

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

Green Party Critic Elizabeth May: < >

And find your local Member of Parliament HERE.

Photo credit: UNICEF/Eyad El Baba (Gaza mother and child); UNICEF (Gaza teen) is a public outreach project of the Rideau Institute linking Canadians working together for peace. We depend on your donations as we accept no funding from government or industry to protect our independence. Thank you for your support….

Tags: Amnesty International, Arab Digest, arms transfers to Israel, Article 94 of ICJ Statute, Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden, Dr. Yipeng Ge, European Commission, genocide,, Human Rights Watch, ICJ, ICJ provisional order, IDF, International Development Minister Hussen, International Women's Day 2024, Israel, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, Jeet Heer, Jeremy Konyndyk, Kathleen Ruff, NDP Opposition Motion on Gaza, New York Times, New York Times/Sienna College polling on Gaza, Palestine, PassBlue, Philippe Lazzarini, Pramila Patten, Progressive International, Rafah, Refugees International, sexual violence as an instrument of war, South Africa, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, starvation as a weapon of war, The Intercept, UN High Commission on Human Rights, UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UNRWA, US floating port off Gaza, War crimes, war on Gaza