Canada Protests Seizure of Gaza Relief Supplies

(No. 32 - February 4, 2009)The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, today issued the following statement on the seizure of relief supplies by Hamas:

"Canada is deeply concerned by Hamas's seizure by force of international aid supplies, including over 3,500 blankets and some 400 food parcels that were intended for distribution to 500 Palestinian refugee families in Gaza.

"Humanitarian actors operating in Gaza must be allowed to carry out their work independently, without hindrance, in order to support those who need emergency assistance. Refugees must not be made to suffer as a result of Hamas's irresponsible actions.

"The Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency, provided $4 million in emergency aid in response to the humanitarian situation in Gaza in January 2009.

"Just as Hamas precipitated the recent crisis by its rocket attacks on Israel, Hamas is now once again acting to the detriment of Palestinians by seizing crucial aid intended for those most in need. Canada reiterates that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and these actions do nothing to benefit the interests of the Palestinian people.

"Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and abide by all previous agreements between the Palestinians and Israel."

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Michelle Coates
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Cooperation

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)