Canadian shot by Israeli sniper in West Bank

nazzal in ottawaCanadian 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:

  1. Is it true that Ms. Nazzal was shot by an Israeli sniper on December 11th in Bethlehem?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. What efforts have been made by the Canadian government to contact Ms. Nazzal and offer her appropriate assistance?
  5. What efforts has the Canadian government made to ascertain the facts of this matter?
  6. 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.

Peter Larson


National Education Committee on Israel/Palestine


613 327 0331



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


  1. Good letter Peter. Let’s hope the Liberals get “sunny” about Palestine. As you know their last vote in the U.N. was the same as Harper’s. Regards, Marina

    1. The sunniest thing that the Liberals could do is to get Canada to look at taking the lead in reviving the Culture of Peace Initiative. The world is 15 years behind schedule on this. NATO has loaded the Middle East with weapons and bribing war lords. The time has come when this adversarial model needs to be replaced with what UNESCO was working in in the 1990s to enable the world to have the tools that would make choosing peace easier than the resort to war. The 80+ million signatories to the Six Points in the Manifesto 2000 Declaration are waiting for some serious support for what UNESCO was commissioned to achieve.

  2. Peter,
    I’m sure that our new Liberal P.M., Justin Trudeau will take an action on the incident,
    Also, I’m sure that our new minister,Hon. Stephane Dion will not fail to take action on what is needed or expected from him to do in the incident of Rehab Nazzal, NOT AS what the former Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, did when a German racist Security Officer shut an Egyptian in a German Court around four years ago!!.

  3. Bravo !  Endorsed, Marilyn Marilyn Berzan-Montblanch514.277.2369

    From: Canada Talks Israel-Palestine To: Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 7:11 AM Subject: [New post] Canadian shot by Israeli sniper in West Bank #yiv1722358011 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1722358011 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1722358011 a.yiv1722358011primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1722358011 a.yiv1722358011primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1722358011 a.yiv1722358011primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1722358011 a.yiv1722358011primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1722358011 | Peter Larson posted: “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,Min” | |

  4. Reblogged this on Peacing Stories and commented:
    On Dec. 11, a Canadian citizen was shot in Bethlehem. Her name is Rehab Nazzal and she is a photographer and PhD student at the University of Western Ontario. Please consider this blog and the letter from Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb ( Please sign the petition to the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Canadian Foreign Minister and Ambassador Vivian Bercovici, Canadian Ambassador to Israel at: See also:( and

    1. Peter,

      I’d like to add to my above mentioned comment, that Hon. Stephane Dion, Must make sure that what happened to Rehab Nazzal in December 2015, must not happen in future time to any Canadian visiting Israel, whether he/she, is of Palestinian Origin or any other Origin.

      I hope that he’ll read your questions and our comments on it, and do accordingly, which I hope and sure that will happen Insha’Allah.

  5. She was not shot in the West Bank – she was shot in Occupied Palestine. West Bank is the Israeli euphemism for Occupied Palestine so it does not have to say the words Palestine and Occupied. The term West Bank should always be replaced with Occupied Palestine.

    1. Hey rosross, thanks for your comment. The term “West Bank” is a geographic term widely used by Palestinians, Israelis and international observers, to refer to the lands west of the Jordan River. The West Bank was a part of Jordan until 1948, and has been occupied by Israel since 1967. The term that the settlers and the Israelis government prefers to use to refer to the West Bank is the biblical term “Judea and Samaria”. On the other hand, “occupied Palestine” is an ambiguous term. Some use it to refer to only the land taken by Israel in 1967, (ie. the West Bank and Gaza) while others use it to refer to the whole of what was Mandate Palestine.

      1. The term West Bank was invented by Israel to pretend Palestine did not exist. Everything beyond UN mandated borders, the only borders, which, while not tested in law, remain potentially legitimate for Israel and everything else is Occupied Palestine.

        Judea and Samaria are as relevant as Byzantium and other ancient terms which have no place in today’s world.

        Palestine, whether occupied and controlled by Jordan, Turkey, Israel or the British contains what is called the West Bank.

      2. Palestine (1920-1948) was the name of a territory controlled by Britain under a mandate from the League of Nations. Palestine no longer exists.

      1. West Bank is an Israeli euphemism for Palestine. Israel likes to pretend Palestine does not exist. It is all propaganda. It is important to refer to Occupied Palestine and not the West Bank or Palestinian Territories. They are not Territories or a Bank in the West – it is Palestine.

        At this point, and still not tested in law, the UN mandate remains the only legitimate borders for Israel although the partition was clearly immoral even if it could possibly be proven to be legal.

        Israel is a coloniser in and of Palestine and the indigenous Palestinians will be free. Since Israel has made two states impossible, there will be one state with equal rights for all, shared by indigenous and colonisers as everyone else has had to do, including South Africa which faced the same problem Israel does – a majority of indigenous.

  6. Hey rosross, a question for you. What do you mean by ‘Palestine’? Geographically, I mean. Is it just the West Bank and Gaza? When I arrive in Tel Aviv, my Palestinian friends say ‘Welcome to Palestine’. Are they wrong? I would like to better understand your position.

    1. The most nationalistic Israelis do not like either the term “Palestine” or “West Bank”. They don’t even recognize that there are people called “Palestinians”, they insist that they are just “Arabs”. These people, whom I think have been blinded by lifetime propaganda, insist on using the Hebrew Biblical names for everything. They did not invent the term “West Bank”. People started using that term in the hope it would be politically neutral. Of course, that does not work. Those who are not neutral don’t like it. In this situation, there is no neutral term but Peter has chosen the best possible term.

  7. Write the government and call for “Real Change”. Remind them that “Better is always possible”. Hold them to their promises.

  8. Thank you Peter. Your letter is very good. I endorse it completely.I hope Mr. Dion would act on it and give you a reply.
    Am I correct that the incident was not mentioned in the news? ===Fethia

    1. The incident was mentioned by CTV and in several papers. But its not surprising that you missed it, because it did not get much attention. Had it been a Jewish Canadian shot in the West Bank or Gaza, I think we would have heard a lot more about it, I think.

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