Canada sanctions Hamas leaders as Joly says more aid must reach Gaza Strip

Canada sanctions Hamas leaders as Joly says more aid must reach Gaza Strip © Provided by The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Canada sanctioned nearly a dozen people Tuesday connected to the brutal attack on Israel four months ago that triggered the country’s protracted conflict with Hamas.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced the sanctions against 10 people affiliated with Hamas, including senior leaders, and another person associated with the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.

“Let me be clear. Hamas is a terrorist organization and they will be held accountable for their terrorist attacks,” she said Tuesday on Parliament Hill, nearly four months into the war.

Among those sanctioned is Hamas senior leader Yahya Sinwar, who is accused of plotting the Oct. 7 attack in which militants killed 1,200 people in Israel and took another 250 hostage.

Israel declared war in response and has continued to bombard the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory governed by Hamas, while drastically restricting vital humanitarian aid. The territory’s health ministry says about 27,500 Palestinians have been killed in the barrage.

Tuesday marks the first time Canada has handed down individual sanctions against non-state actors, and Global Affairs Canada said the move aims to hinder the ability of Hamas to access funds.

Canadians are now barred from any financial dealings with those on the sanctions list.

Ottawa has also said it is considering sanctioning Israeli settlers in the West Bank who are accused of violent attacks on Palestinians.

But the Liberal government has resisted calls from pro-Palestinian groups to also sanction Israeli government officials who’ve made inflammatory comments such as advocating collective punishment and “erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth” by using nuclear weapons.

The group Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East argues that not sanctioning such Israeli officials exposes a “double standard.”

Meanwhile, Joly is dismissing a bid by Nicaragua to hold Canada and three other countries responsible for their support of Israel.

This week, the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced it will try to have the International Court of Justice rule on states providing military goods to Israel as being complicit in any crimes it may be committing.

That’s if the court decides to find Israel guilty of genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, per a case brought by South Africa.

Ortega’s autocratic government said it’s also targeting the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands for having provided such support.

“It is just their own propaganda,” Joly said, adding she was unsurprised by the move.

She chalked it up to retaliation for Canada’s sanctions against Nicaraguan officials.

Israel was within the top 20 destinations for the export Canadian military goods in 2022, the most recent year for which figures are available.

Global Affairs Canada insists Ottawa has not allowed arms to be sent to Israel in decades but does allow for the export of military technology and “non-lethal” goods, a term that disarmament advocates argue is not clearly defined.

In an interim ruling in the South Africa case last month, the International Court of Justice did not order a ceasefire but demanded that Israel crack down on statements that might incite people to genocide.

It also asked the country to document its actions in case it’s found guilty of genocide.

Asked Tuesday what Canada is doing to make sure those orders are followed, Joly said she has raised the issue with her Israeli counterpart.

“I’m working a lot with many countries in the world to make sure that we stop the violence, because we absolutely need to get to a hostage deal,” she said, arguing that would prevent more escalation.

Joly said she also raised the need for more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza in calls with her counterparts from Israel and Jordan.

“The situation is dire; it is catastrophic, and I’ve said many times (that) it is one of the worst places to live on earth,” she said.

Source: Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press