Tag Archives: israel

Getting Canadians out

Why does this sound familiar?

JERUSALEM–Thirty-nine Canadians, still stranded in war-wracked Gaza yesterday, could have safely departed the territory last Friday – if only Canadian diplomats had known it.

Early last Friday, more than 30 hours before the launch of a deadly Israeli ground offensive, more than 200 foreign nationals fled Gaza via the Erez border crossing, which had been opened by Israeli authorities for just that day and for just that purpose.

Had the Canadians shown up at the border on Friday, they likely would have been permitted to cross, said Maj. Peter Lerner, spokesperson for the Israeli agency that handle’s this country’s activities in the territory.

“We don’t like to be surprised,” he told the Star last night, “but I’m pretty certain we would have facilitated that.”

But it was only on Friday that Canadian diplomats first provided the Israelis with a list of names of Canadians who wanted to leave the territory, and no attempt was made to contact them that day, to tell them to get to the border right away, because it was open.

Probably because it is:

July 20, 2006 – Micromanagement by the Prime Minister’s Office and a lack of resources in Lebanon contributed to the confusion and anguish at Beirut’s port Wednesday as Canadians trying to flee Israeli bombardments watched boats chartered by other nations sail away, leaving them behind.

It is expected, ultimately, to be the largest removal of Canadian citizens from a crisis zone ever arranged by the federal government. But, as early as Sunday, there were complaints about delays in arranging ships to carry people to safety, as well as lineups and inaction at the Canadian embassy.

The perception of inaction was exacerbated by the lack of information flowing last week about Canadian efforts to organize a response.

Lifeguard not on duty. Swim at own risk.