Canada commits $25 million in humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank

Canada is promising to spend $25 million on humanitarian aid aimed at reducing suffering in Gaza, with money earmarked for basic needs, critical infrastructure and peacebuilding activities.

Foreign minister reaffirms Canada's call for peaceful dialogue, stance on illegality of settlements

A Palestinian man inspects what remains of a six-story building destroyed by an early morning Israeli airstrike in Gaza City Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Khalil Hamra/The Associated Press)

Canada will send $25 million in humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, a week after a ceasefire was declared in the latest conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas.

The funding will be channeled through UN agencies and other organizations, with $10 million dedicated to basic needs like food, shelter and water. Another $10 million is earmarked for medical and economic infrastructure.

The remaining $5 million will be spent on "peacebuilding initiatives that advance the goal of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East," said a government media statement.

In an interview with CBC's The House airing Saturday, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said the package is aimed at addressing the "immediate need" in Gaza.

"The past few weeks have been heartbreaking," Garneau told host Chris Hall.

At least 254 Palestinians have been killed in the 11-day conflict, as well as one Israeli soldier and 12 civilians in Israel, according to a Reuters report.

End settlements, embrace two-state solution: Garneau

The Canadian government has called for a ceasefire and calm in the region following the recent outbreak of violence.

"Canada has always been clear that we support the two-state solution. We've also said that Israel has the right to defend itself when it is subjected to indiscriminate rocket attack," Garneau said.

"The settlements that have been going on for so long on the West Bank, and evictions and threatened evictions and demolitions in East Jerusalem, must cease.

"These evictions and settlements continue to erode the possibility of us finding a solution, a two-state solution, and we have to send a strong signal that they must cease."

The federal NDP has urged the government to end military exports to Israel. Government data from 2019 show Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel, just 0.4 per cent of Canada's total arms exports.

Garneau said Canada examined every permit related to arms exports to ensure that they meet the nation's obligations to human rights and international law.

Gazans are now starting to rebuild buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes, which the Israeli military says targeted Hamas' military infrastructure.

Prior to the conflict, the UN estimated that over three-quarters of Gaza's 2 million residents were in need of humanitarian assistance. Gaza has been under a blockade put in place by Israel and Egypt since 2007.

The United States this week promised $110 million US in humanitarian aid to Palestinians, in addition to earlier aid commitments.