Open letter to Canada’s representative in Ramallah about today’s deadly Israeli military raid on Nablus

Nablus, February 22, 2023. 10:00 a.m. Shops full. Kids in school. Armoured Israeli jeeps and other vehicles attempt to penetrate the city. Palestinian youth attempt to stop them. Throwing stones at vehicles, and blocking roads. (Photo credit: CNN) Israelis continue to penetrate. Final result? 10 Palestinians dead, over 100 injured, several seriously. We write to Canadian representative in OPT to ask for more information. Read more.

A delegation composed of representatives of three Canadian human rights organizations met in Ramallah last November with David da Silva, Canadian representative to the Palestinian Authority.

In the wake of the disturbing reports received today about a murderous Israeli incursion into Nablus, we write an open letter to Mr. da Silva asking for more information.

Paramedics attempt to treat injured bystander

Open letter to Mr. David da Silva

Canadian representative to the Palestinian Authority

Ramallah, Occupied Palestinian Territory


Ottawa, February 22, 2023

Dear Mr. da Silva,

When we met you in Ramallah last November ago as Canadians concerned about Palestinian human rights, we were looking to you as Canada’s eyes and ears on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In that context, we would like to ask you to confirm (or correct) the following disturbing information we have read about today’s reported Israeli military incursion into the old city of Nablus.

  1. A massive Israeli force including hundreds of soldiers, armoured vehicles, tanks, snipers, helicopters and drones penetrated into the old city of Nablus today starting at 10 a.m. (Haaretz)
  2. This is the fourth major Israeli military penetration into Nablus since June 2021 causing loss of life. (al Jazeera)
  3. This time, the Israeli army said it was attacking to arrest two Palestinian “terrorists’ who were preparing a massive shooting attack in Israel. (Haaretz)
  4. The Israeli government has so far not publicly disclosed any evidence to support their contention that the operation was intended to prevent an “imminent” attack on Israel.
  5. Palestinian youth and residents confronted the soldiers using stones and slingshots. Soldiers allegedy responded using live bullets, tear gas and sound bombs at the homes and shops causing many suffocation cases in the densely populated old city. (Wafa)
  6. The Israeli soldiers surrounded a home in the centre of the Old City, where three suspects were holed up, demanding they turn themselves in. When they refused to do so, the IDF fired missiles at the building, killing the suspects and others inside the building. (Times of Israel)
  7. In all, the Israelis killed 10 people and injured more than 100 others, including several children. (Wafa)
  8. Israeli forces deliberately held up ambulances trying to take the injured to hospital. (MedAid for Palestinians).
  9. This Israeli operation brings to 59, the number of Palestinians killed this year alone, an average of more than one per day. (Middle East Eye)
  10. That one of the children killed was 16 year old Mohammad Farid (Defence of Children International)
  11. Today’s attack comes less than one month after a similar attack in Jenin which killed 10 Palestinians, including at least three civilians. (CJPME)
Israeli settlers, protected by IDF, attack Palestinian farmers (WAFA).

Mr. da Silva, during our visits and meetings in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron last November, we saw many examples and heard many stories from Palestinians who are regularly attacked by Israeli settlers. They told us that when they try to defend their land, their animals or their crops, the Israeli military comes to the aid of the settlers. And if they fight back against the Israeli military they are called “terrorists”.

We look to you, as the representative of the Canadian government, and the Canadian people, to investigate the circumstances of this brutal attack, and share your observations with the government you work for, as well as with us and with concerned Canadians.

Warm wishes,

Michael Bueckert, Vice-President, Canadians for Justice and peace n the Middle East (CJPME)

Philip Sherwood, National Steering committee, United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI)

Peter Larson, Chair, Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP)

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

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  1. Point six in your open letter neglects to mention that the missile fired at the building was in response to gunfire from the building. The New York Times states that two people were killed in the building, both claimed as members of the Lions Den group.

    As you correctly report, the Israelis report that they were in Nablus to stop an imminent terrorist attack by the Lions Den group. While they may not have offered proof, the track record of Lions Den makes such claims credible.

    The New York Times states that Lions Den, founded only last year and responsible for the murder of dozens of Israelis, claimed six of the ten dead were its members.

    New York Times states that there were hour long gun battles between armed Palestinians and the IDF. The letter implies that Palestinians threw stones and Israelis fired bullets. In fact the Israelis were responding to gun fire from the Palestinian side.

    The New York times also reports on the Israeli perspective, which is that armed Palestinians who organize attacks on Israel are not being curbed by the Palestinian Authority, which is supposed to be responsible for security in Nablus. This leaves the Israel little choice but to intervene themselves.

    Since Israel withdrew from Nablus under the terms of the Oslo accords, under which Palestinians were supposed to have given up the use of force to resolve the conflict with Israel, it no longer has any regular security presence there. Since there has been a great deal of violence emanating from the area they have to enter in force when they go in at all.

    I regret it whenever any Palestinians are killed by the IDF. The Israeli government hasn’t done enough to curb the presence of Jews living in the territories in defiance of Israeli law in my opinion. Nonetheless Israeli troops would not be in Nablus if there had not been an upsurge of murderous attacks on Israelis emanating from the city.

    The Palestinians have the power to end such Israeli attacks. To do this, they must effectively police the areas under their jurisdiction and put an end to the bloody violence directed against Israelis by people living under autonomous Palestinian rule.

    To achieve more, they will have to come to the table and conclude a peace agreement with Israel as envisioned in the Oslo accords. This is the only path to a Palestinian State. Armed resistance will only lead to more Israeli raids and will never lead to a free Palestine.

    1. Hello David,
      Thank you.
      I think it is valuable to read the New York Times. However, i think you will agree that it’s perspective is generally the Israeli perspective, notwithstanding its acceptance of the occasional op ed from dissonant voices, like that of Peter Beinart.

      Most people now agree that the Oslo Accords are a dead letter. Most Palestinians agree that they were a trap. In any event, they have never prevented Israeli settlers, or the IDF from using force against Palestinians.

    2. There is a simple fact missing from your perspective: Israeli soldiers are occupying force, Palestinians are occupied. “shooting” is happening in a Palestinian land occupied by Israel. This fact is critical to understand the situation.

    3. by B. Michael, Haaretz Feb. 20

      A concerned Israel is loudly bashing its hands together: “Gevalt,” they are screaming at one another: “If the scheme of Levin and his rottweilers succeeds, then we will be like Poland! The same as Hungary! Oy, how will we hide our shame?”

      If this is true, then we can calm down. The comparative research I conducted between these three aforementioned countries led to an unambiguous finding: Even if the no-rule-of-law gang wins, even if it realizes the justice minister’s entire dream – and all the judges in Israel will be members of the Likud Central Committee and rabbis of Otzma Yehudit – we will still not be like Poland or the same as Hungary. And that’s a shame. If only we were a bit more like them.

      Here are some of the findings of my research, and we can start from the daily trifles: The study found that in both Poland and Hungary there is public transportation 365 days a year. On holidays, too, and also on the Sabbath. Interesting. It also turns out that in the hospitals in Poland – and in Hungary – eating bread is allowed 365 days a year. There is no obligation to bring hospitalized patients only dry rusks for an entire week. Truly interesting.

      It also turns out that in Hungary – and in Poland, too – a Catholic can marry a Buddhist, a Jew may marry a Christian and a Muslim can wed a Zoroastrian, without the groom having to prove a part of his penis has been cut off, without prying into the bride’s mitochondrial genes and without needing a flight to Cyprus. Quite strange.

      Here are a few more differences: Poland and Hungary do not operate a military dictatorship that rules over millions of people, steals their property, cheapens their lives and suffocates their vitality. In both countries, when one person shoots another person in the head – always, but always – a police investigation is opened, without any difference based on religion or nationality, and that’s already something quite bizarre.

      Israel’s second upheaval
      There can be no dialogue on democracy with far-right hitmen
      As U.S. Jews and union leaders, we see the dangers of Israel’s democratic crisis
      Hungary and Poland are not ruled by a band of holy priests whom no one elected, and neither country has a legally operating parallel legal system – which does not have even a single female judge – whose guiding lights are misogyny and racism, and which is based on a system of laws born from a heavenly myth during the Bronze Age.

      They don’t support with public funds tens of thousands of idlers who do not contribute or create anything – and they don’t spend enormous sums on maintaining nests of armed rioters who take their revenge on their neighbors to make their lives miserable and rob them.

      In short, the attempt to argue that if the legal system here is castrated, we will become like Poland and Hungary is an empty pretension. Israel has a long way to go before it will be worthy of comparing itself to any country in Europe, even the worst of them.

      True, in Poland and Hungary nationalist and dark leaders rule, and they are “illiberal democracies,” a phrase that is no less an oxymoron than “Jewish and democratic.” Maybe that is the only point of similarity between the three.

      The only country in the region that Israel is suitable to be compared to is Iran. The similarity is almost amusing: Both are controlled by religious priests, shoot those who rise up without hesitation, operate according to a codex that is thousands of years old, and exclude women in a self-righteous and evil manner. And both lie about matters of nuclear fission. The similarity is so vivid that it is not at all clear over what they are fighting each other. They need to make a twin-state alliance, establish an entity to be called “Isran” and together bring forward the redemption.

      And what will be with the “bomb?” No problem, between us and them there is enough for everyone – we’ll share.

  2. The Israeli military raid on Nablus is a clear violation of human rights, and the international community, including Canada, must hold Israel accountable. It’s time for the Canadian government to support Palestinian rights, recognize their right to self-determination, and work towards a just and lasting peace in the region. We must continue to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and demand that their rights are respected.

  3. Thank you for contacting Mr da Silva about this horrific situation. Our government must cease unconditional support it offers the government of Israel and its occupation of the West Bank.

  4. Would Israel have used the same tactics and killed as many people if the suspected terrorists were hiding in a Jewish neighbourhood? Somehow I doubt it. There is a dual standard. Israel respects and values Jewish lives but to the IDF, Palestinians are Just collateral damage.

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