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Ottawa announces aid for Palestinian survivors of sexual violence

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly during question period on February 6 in Ottawa

Dylan Robertson – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

9:32 p.m.

  • Canada

This week's announcement that Canada would provide funding to Palestinian survivors of sexual violence drew an immediate rebuke from an Israeli official.

Mélanie Joly pledged $1 million for women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whom her office described as “survivors of sexual violence, regardless of the circumstances.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, announced a $1 million commitment on social media on Tuesday.

“We believe Palestinian women,” she said on the social network X (formerly Twitter).

“Allegations of gender-based sexual violence against them must be investigated and Palestinian women must be supported. »

A few minutes later, Israel's special envoy for the fight against anti-Semitism, Michal Cotler-Wunsh, wrote that this Canadian funding “supports the reversal of the facts on the blood libel » which will fuel the rise of anti-Semitic sentiment.

“It is also a betrayal and an attack on Canada’s commitment to respect and protect the fundamental principles of life and liberty,” she said on X.

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Mélanie Joly's office would not say whether Canada believes Israeli forces are committing sexual violence against women in Gaza as their war against Hamas continues nor whether the funding concerns domestic violence in the Palestinian territories.

The minister's team simply said the money would go to “organizations supporting Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza who have survived sexual violence, regardless of the circumstances.”

Earlier this week, Joly announced the same amount of money to support Israeli women victims of sexual violence at the hands of Hamas, months after a multi-partisan group of former Canadian politicians called on Canada to pledge 1 million $.

It is unclear which organizations will receive the announced funding for women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Allegations of sexual assault

Last month, a United Nations panel of experts expressed shock over unconfirmed reports that Palestinian women and girls detained in Israel had been victims of sexual assault.

The allegations included reports of rape and threats of sexual assault and strip searches by male Israeli soldiers. UN experts have said they want an impartial investigation into the allegations.

The Center for Israel-Jewish Relations (CIJA) said it is crucial that women are believed, especially those affected by sexual violence during conflict. But the Canadian group's president, Shimon Koffler Fogel, warned against “any implication of equivalence” with the planned Hamas attack that resulted in sexual assaults on Israeli women.

“Allegations of gender-based violence should always receive careful evaluation, and Israel has objective processes and safeguards for any allegations of misconduct – allegations have not yet been reported through these channels,” wrote Koffler Fogel.

“We are increasingly concerned that these allegations seek to weaponize gender-based violence,” he said, and a weapon to delegitimize Israel.

“Investigations are necessary, but Canada should refrain from comment, judgment and funding until the allegations are objectively substantiated. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116