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  • Writer's pictureTimea Spitka

Genocide in Gaza: What Happened to Canadian ethics and leadership in R2P?

Global Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was created after the failure of the International Community to stop the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia. Canadians took the lead in the establishment of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2000, which fostered global consensus and resulted in the eventual adoption of R2P at the 2005 UN World Summit. The R2P norm gives responsibility to the international community to take timely and decisive action when the state or relevant authorities are manifestly failing in providing protection from war atrocities; including ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.


There is much evidence that the October 7th events in Israel including the killing and kidnappings of civilians, mutilations and rapes of Israeli women and girls amounted to crimes against humanity. There is also much evidence that the subsequent Israeli bombing campaigns which have killed more than 30,000 Palestinian civilians, the forced displacement 1.4 million and massive starvation of the majority of the Gaza population, amount to war crimes and even genocide. In the case of Gaza, it is blatantly evident that no authority is able or willing to provide for the protection of the civilian population.


In its January 26th preliminary landmark ruling, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Israel must 'take all measures' to avoid acts of genocide in Gaza, punish incitement and called on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all Israeli hostages.  Although the initial ICJ ruling stopped short of ordering an immediate halt to the Gaza war, the ruling cannot be ignored. South Africa’s case of accusation of genocide has been accepted by the international court and will end with a trial, a ruling and perhaps punishment for individual members of Hamas and Israeli leadership. A ruling in favor of genocide implicates all those who knowingly assisted Israel, including Canada.


Ongoing threats to attack Rafah where 1.4 million Palestinians were forced to flee and this week’s massacre of Gaza civilians attempting to secure food, are just some signs of the complete lack of safety for anyone in Gaza.  The realities in Gaza also risk a regional war, which requires a fast-track resolution. There is only one path back protection of all civilians and this a final status peace agreement, ending both the rule of Hamas over Gaza and Israel’s violent military occupation. This requires an external push that will not happen when countries, such as the US and Canada, continue to support Israel blindly, ignoring its flagrant disregard for international law and Palestinian lives. No internal solutions are currently possible. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu knows that the end of the war will mean his demise and is not fostering any hope for a resolution. Israeli government’s current trajectory via Gaza is at best collective punishment and ethnic cleansing, at worst; genocide. Before there is an outcry of antisemitism from any readers, I should mention that I am a mom of an Israeli soldier and my 20-year-old is currently serving in Israel. Obviously, I love my son and would be devastated if he lost a finger, and cannot contemplate a larger loss. I have had former students and colleagues who were killed or captured on October 7thand am also devastated by the loss of life in Israel, including the soldiers, who became the property of the Israeli army at 16th and half and subsequently have had the bleak choice of serving or going to prison.


There has been so much death and it has led to nothing except more grieving parents and destruction of peoples lives. Hamas leadership in Gaza must also come to a halt, as it has no qualms about targeting Israeli civilians, hiding behind its own civilians and pocketing money from smuggling people and goods. Alternative to Hamas ruling Gaza can only come from the Palestinian Authority, and can only be made possible by immense international pressure and support. Canada remains one of the staunchest supporters of Israel and must step up to prioritize the protection of all civilians, which will only come from peace.

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