Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Two weeks into the Israel-Hamas war, the federal government is still trying to find ways to get Canadians out of Gaza, while evacuation flights out of Tel Aviv are starting to wind down.

On Friday, Global Affairs Canada and other government officials provided an update on the status of various evacuation efforts.

They also signalled that plans are being made to assist Canadians in Lebanon, should the conflict spill over.

Here’s what we know heading into the weekend.


After conducting 16 flights out of Tel Aviv, airlifting Canadians to Athens for nine days straight, the Canadian government is indicating that these flights could soon end.

The Canadian Armed Forces says because of reduced demand, these shuttles have slowed from two flights per day to one, seeing one of the two Airbus CC-150 Polaris taken off duty.

There are three flights planned for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. After that, future flights remain undetermined as demand is “dwindling.”

As of Friday, Canada has helped nearly 1,600 Canadians their family members leave Israel via the Ben Gurion Airport. Those that have boarded these military flights have been responsible for covering the cost of their travel from Greece onward.

Canadian citizens waiting at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to board one of a series of scheduled evacuation flights. (CTV News / Marley Parker)

“If you intend to leave Israel, I strongly recommend that you contact us and provide us with your information as soon as possible so that we can put you on one of these flights,” Global Affairs Canada’s assistant deputy minister for consular security and emergency management Julie Sunday told reporters Friday.

“If you’re given a seat on one of these flights, I urge you to take it.”


There is still no concrete plan to get Canadians out of Gaza, though with news of a potential pathway opening for humanitarian aid to get in from Egypt, federal officials are hopeful the situation will progress to a place where they can get people out.

“The situation remains extremely fluid, and while there have been positive signs, the Rafah border crossing remains closed for foreign nationals seeking to leave,” Sunday said.

“We are continuing to communicate directly with Canadians who wish to exit. We know they are facing extremely difficult conditions and we are doing everything we can to support them.”

If, and when a window for exits opens, it will likely be for a short period of time and require a massive multinational effort.

Sunday noted that with an estimated 430 Canadians registered with the government as being in Gaza, any evacuation effort would take considerable resources.

“Our mission in Cairo continues to engage with Egyptian authorities to ensure that any Canadians that can pass through the Rafah crossing will be transported to Cairo and onward to Canada.

“We are looking at how we can facilitate Canadians then getting from Cairo back to Canada, and we will likely do something very similar to what we had in Athens in terms of supporting their onward travel.


So far, Canada has been able to conduct some limited assisted departures through the West Bank, seeing the exit of 33 passengers.

The majority of these individuals got out by bus on Monday, crossing from Ramallah through the Allenby Gate to Jordan. 

A picture of a bus that Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly shared in a social media post about Canadians arriving in Jordan on Oct. 16, 2023. (Melanie Joly via X)

Sunday said Canada is planning for further transfers on Sunday and Monday.

“Our mission in Ramallah continues to be in direct contact with all Canadians in the West Bank who require assistance leaving,” Sunday said.

“We will be conducting further assisted departures based on need, and in line with the security situation on the ground as it continues to evolve.”


After days of watching fighting intensify on the southern border with Israel and earlier cautions about it being the time to leave Lebanon, mid week Canada updated its travel advisory.

The federal government is now advising against all travel to that country, and planning to potentially begin evacuations. 

“Canadians should not travel to Lebanon for any reason. For those Canadians who are already in Lebanon, we strongly advise that they seek commercial options to leave as soon as possible,” Sunday said.

The government estimates there are 14,500 Canadians registered in Lebanon, and to assist in a swift exit if needed, Global Affairs is asking all in the country to ensure they and their families have the necessary travel documents.

“People have longstanding ties, families. These are really difficult decisions to make, and we understand that, but our best advice is it’s time to come back to Canada,” Sunday said.

Officials said that cross-government planning is underway to prepare for “all possible scenarios,” including pre-positioning a rapid deployment team in the region.

Further, the Canadian Armed Forces is planning for potential non-combatant evacuation operations in Lebanon.

Maj.-Gen. Darcy Molstad, deputy commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command said military members have been stationed in Lebanon and Cyprus to prepare. 

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