Canadian photographer Rehab Nazzal, here shown speaking in Ottawa in 2014, was shot last week in Bethlehem by an Israeli sniper. I ask six questions of Canada’s new Global Affairs Minister, Hon. Stephane Dion. Read my letter here.
Hon Stéphane Dion,
Minister of Global Affairs,
Dear Minister Dion,
According to the Ottawa Citizen, well known Canadian photographer Rehab Nazzal was shot on December 11th by an Israeli sniper in Bethlehem. Ms. Nazzal, a Canadian of Palestinian origin, is currently in the West Bank carrying out research in the course of her Ph.D. program at Western University in London, Ontario. Apparently she is now out of hospital and her injuries, while serious, are not considered life-threatening.
Ms. Nazzal is well known to Israeli authorities for her photographic documentation of Israeli human rights violations. Last year, the Israeli Ambassador to Canada personally intervened to try to prevent the City of Ottawa from showing her photographs at a city hall exhibition. His protests were rejected by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
According to Ms. Nazzal, at the time of the shooting last week, she was armed only with a camera, and was far from any soldier or demonstrators. She was taking photographs of Israeli soldiers using a “Skunk” machine which sprays foul smelling chemicals on demonstrators and on the Palestinian homes nearby.
If her allegations are true, it would seem to be a shocking violation of basic human rights. The fact that Ms. Nazzal is a Canadian citizen further demands that our government take this issue seriously.
In this context, Minister Dion, I would like to ask you 6 questions:
- Is it true that Ms. Nazzal was shot by an Israeli sniper on December 11th in Bethlehem?
- Is it true that, as she claims, she was unarmed, far from any Israeli soldiers or Palestinian demonstrators and therefore not posing an immediate threat to anyone?
- Is it possible that Ms. Nazzal, who is well known to Israeli authorities, was specifically targeted, or was she caught up in a more general Israeli policy of repression against those who document their actions against Palestinians?
- What efforts have been made by the Canadian government to contact Ms. Nazzal and offer her appropriate assistance?
- What efforts has the Canadian government made to ascertain the facts of this matter?
- If the allegations of an unprovoked attack on a Canadian citizen prove to be well founded, what actions will your government take?
As you know Minister Dion, the previous Harper government prided itself on being Israel’s “best friend”. It systematically overlooked human rights violations against Palestinians by Israeli authorities. Shockingly, when a Canadian Army officer, Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, serving under UN auspices, was killed by Israeli artillery in 2006, the Harper government turned a blind eye.
Like many Canadians, I am encouraged by the fact that Prime Minister Trudeau has promised a new tone in Canadian foreign policy. I trust that this new tone will include a more balanced approach to the Israel/Palestine issue, one that does not shy away from investigating and opposing human rights violations where they occur.
Thank you in advance.
National Education Committee on Israel/Palestine
613 327 0331
- Hon. Tony Clement, Global Affairs Critic, Conservative Party of Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Ms. Hélène Laverdière, Global Affairs critic, NDP (Helene.Laverdiere@parl.gc.ca)
- Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada (Elizabeth.email@example.com)
- Louis Plamondon, Bloc Québécois (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- His Honour Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa (email@example.com
If you want to write your own letter, feel free to use parts of mine, or sign any of the numerous petitions that are circulating on this topic. PL
UPDATE: On January 14th, I received the following letter from M. Dion’s office, which did not answer ANY of my questions. It refers to “consular assistance” for Ms. Nazzal. My request was quite different however – for the Canadian government to investigate and make political representation to the Israeli government about the shooting of an innocent Canadian by Israeli forces in territory Canada says is illegally occupied. This is ignored in the letter.
Dear Mr. Larson,
I am writing in response to your email of December 18, 2015, addressed to the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, regarding the case of Ms. Rehab Nazzal. While the Privacy Act limits the information I can share, please be assured that Global Affairs Canada is aware of the incident in the West Bank involving Ms. Nazzal and that Canadian consular officials at the Representative Office of Canada to the Palestinian Authority stand ready to provide consular assistance as required.
Sincerely, Victoria Fuller, Director, Consular Operations Bureau