Minister Baird Statement on Participation in Gaza Flotillas

(No. 149 - May 28, 2011 - 11:50 p.m. ET) John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, today, in advance of the one-year anniversary of the May 31, 2010, Gaza flotilla incident, issued the following statement with the hope of dissuading Canadians from participating in similar flotillas:

"I strongly urge those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels. Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza.

"Canada recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns and its right to protect itself and its residents from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by preventing the smuggling of weapons.

"Canada recognizes that there are legitimate and constructive ways to help the people of Gaza. One way is to donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent. The organization has people on the ground in Gaza to help deliver, among other things, clean water and health care.

"I would note that Canada continues to call for the immediate return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for almost five years, to his family in Israel."

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