Fatima Shbair Associated Press Palestinians arrive at the Rafah border crossing, which separates the Gaza Strip and Egypt's Sinai, the Last November 1st.
The federal government has told Canadians stuck in the besieged Gaza Strip that they will likely have to wait until at least Tuesday to leave the war-torn territory and cross the Rafah border into Egypt. However, even that date remains uncertain.
Dalia Salim has spent recent days desperately trying to deliver messages from the Canadian government to her father about when he will be able to escape from the besieged Gaza Strip .
As far as he knows, his father Sami, 66, is sleeping in a tent on a vacant lot in the south of the territory, waiting for his name to be added to the list of foreign nationals allowed to cross the border between Rafah and Egypt and thus returning to Canada.
Communication has been difficult since his father lost telephone service, and they are mainly reduced to passing messages to each other through others camped around him .
She learned he would finally be able to leave on Monday, but then discovered the border between Gaza and Egypt was closed. She contacted a Global Affairs Canada officer to find out what that would mean.
“He wrote me back and said no, he shouldn't go on Monday because the border is closed and there are going to be delays,” said Salim, who lives in London, Ont.
Global Affairs Canada emailed him and other families to inform them that evacuations of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their family members are tentatively scheduled to begin as early as Tuesday.
But The agency has no information on when the Rafah border crossing will reopen, it said in an updated statement on Sunday, and did not confirm the delayed departure date.
A General Authority evacuation list for the Gaza border crossings, as presented on a widely shared Google spreadsheet, has not been updated since Friday evening.
Global Affairs Canada had previously told those affected that they would be able to leave “as early as Sunday,” but the small number of foreigners allowed to use the Rafah border crossing came to a halt on Saturday due to the escalation of strikes of Israel, which continues its reprisals for the deadly Hamas incursion into this country on October 7.
There was talk “that more than 400 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and eligible family members could leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing in the coming days.”
There was no clear reason behind the closure of the Rafah post. A spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority said officials in Gaza did not allow foreign passport holders to leave because Israel was preventing the evacuation of Palestinian patients to Egypt.
The war entered what Israeli officials described as a new phase on Sunday when the country's army announced it had surrounded Gaza City and divided the besieged coastal strip in two.
« Today today there is northern Gaza and southern Gaza,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters, calling it an “important step” in Israel’s war against the Hamas militant group. Israeli media reported that troops were expected to enter Gaza City within 48 hours.
Three Canadians were able to flee
Three Canadian citizens managed to cross the Rafah border into Egypt thanks to a third party, Global Affairs Canada confirmed in a press release, but refused to provide further details for confidentiality reasons.
In its most recent update, Global Affairs Canada claims to be in contact with 596 Canadian nationals and their family members in Gaza, 70 in the West Bank and 18 in Israel.
“We are communicating directly with Canadians asking them to have their travel documents on hand and to be ready to travel at very short notice. The Egyptian government will allow people entering Egypt from Gaza to stay in the country for a maximum of 72 hours [3 days]. Our consular officers will be present on the Egyptian side of the border to facilitate bus transportation to Cairo and assist with the onward journey to Canada,” states the latest press release from Global Affairs Canada.
< p>So far, the deaths of “six Canadian citizens and one person with close ties to Canada” have been confirmed.
There are currently more than 5,740 Canadians on the Canadian List abroad in Israel, 451 Canadians registered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and 18,014 in Lebanon.
Furthermore, the Canadian government reiterates a message that could not be clearer for Canadian citizens who are in Israel's neighboring country, Lebanon: “Get out when you can.”
“The Canadians from the affected region are encouraged to register to receive up-to-date information,” recalls Global Affairs Canada.
“Global Affairs Canada has responded to 10,852 requests for information since the start of the conflict, on October 7. Most requests relate to departure possibilities and the security situation,” it is specified in the latest update.
Uncertainties over evacuation
With a backlog of foreign nationals waiting to leave Gaza, Ms. Salim expects the actual timeline for Canadians to leave will depend on when the border reopens.
“They won’t be able to give us an answer,” she said of the Canadian government. They basically just say: “stay put, you are registered and the evacuation will take place in the next few days”. »
If the border impasse is resolved, Canada's ambassador to Egypt hopes to see up to 200 Canadians cross on the first day, Ambassador Louis Dumas responded on CTV on Sunday.
He warned, however, that many other countries have failed to get everyone on the list across the border on the scheduled day.
“We hope they all succeed, but we have to be responsible and work on this contingency plan in case they can't come on a specific day,” he said.
Canada has a team of consular officials stationed in Egypt, ready to travel quickly to the border once they get the green light from Egyptian authorities, the government confirmed on Saturday. Egypt only allows foreign embassies to be on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing once the evacuation of their Gaza residents has been confirmed.
With information from the Associated Press