JSpaceCanada welcomes the news that the Israeli government approved a deal that will see the release 50 women and children held hostage by Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip. Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. A cessation in fighting will begin at the same time, lasting four days.

We are heartened that these hostages will be reunited with their families and have continued to push the Canadian government to keep this issue a top priority. At the same time, this is only a portion of the 240 hostages currently being held, therefore the release of all hostages must remain a top priority for Canada, Israel, and all other international allies.

The temporary cessation in fighting will allow for increased humanitarian aid into Gaza, which is much needed as the humanitarian crisis in the region grows more dire by the day and affects millions of innocent Palestinian civilians.

JSpaceCanada, along with the Canadian government, have been calling for such a humanitarian pause, and hope this is the first step in getting to the end of this war.

We reaffirm that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens in response to the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on October 7 in which over 1,200 Israelis were killed. We also reaffirm that Israel has the responsibility to defend itself and its citizens within the bounds of international law.

We also remain concerned about the lack of an exit strategy and clear plan for the return of civilian control in Gaza after the removal of Hamas and the inflammatory conduct of the Netanyahu government during this war, which could jeopardize the ultimate goal of peace through a negotiated two-state solution, which would bring safety, security, and the prevention of terror to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

The devastating toll on the people of Gaza, and the inflammatory, anti-Palestinian sentiment from some members of Israel’s governing coalition since the beginning of this war have the potential to lead to further radicalization and extremism, making it more difficult to implement a long-term, sustainable peace at the end of the war and successfully completing Israel’s stated mission of dismantling Hamas

The Canadian government should speak out forcefully to reinforce that international law must be followed to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza, including insisting on sufficient humanitarian aid to the region and rejecting Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. Its commitment thus far to condemning settler violence in the occupied West Bank and encouraging calm so as to avoid a multi-front conflict is admirable, and we hope to see further statements to this effect.

We thank the Canadian government for its efforts towards securing the release of hostages, including its direct engagement with the government of Qatar. We encourage the government of Canada to continue applying diplomatic and economic pressure on the government of Qatar, which serves as host to Hamas leadership and benefactor of Hamas terror in Gaza, to obtain the full release of all hostages remaining under threat. 

Canada - and Canadian businesses - are the recipients of significant investment from the Government of Qatar and Qatari individuals. Canada should make clear to the Government of Qatar that those assets would be at risk if Qatar does not extradite Hamas leadership to face justice for their role in the horrific attack of October 7th, under the terms of the 2017 Magnitsky Act.

Following this tragic war and the defeat of Hamas, there must emerge a clear path to two-state negotiations, and Canada, as an ally who is committed to this vision must take on the role of encouraging Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations.