On December 20, media outlets in Canada and beyond reported on Hamas’ broadcast of an English-language video statement thanking Canada for its controversial support on December 12 of a non-binding UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Mind you, this is the same Hamas that is – for obvious reasons – designated as a terrorist group by Canada, the US, UK, and EU, amongst others. And the author of the thank you card – senior Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad – is the same individual who hailed the systematic slaughter of more than 1,200 individuals, overwhelmingly civilians, in Israel on October 7… And vowed to repeat the unfathomable barbarity of that day “again and again” if given the chance.
Ensuring that Hamas never again has the chance to carry out the full range of atrocity crimes under international law – including rape, torture, and hostage-taking, to name but a few – is precisely why Israel is fighting a defensive war in Gaza. Indeed, the staggering evil witnessed on October 7 cannot be overstated. As over 100 international law experts recently declared, Hamas’ haunting atrocities on what was the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust likely constitute the international crime of genocide.
Contrariwise, preparing for the next October 7 is precisely why Hamas seeks a ceasefire. It is trite knowledge that Hamas’ interest in Gazan civilians extends only to their potential value as human shields. Equally apparent is Hamas’ fundamental unwillingness to renounce its genocidal goal of annihilating Israel, as evidenced by its repeated breaches of prior ceasefires. To echo the words of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, there was a ceasefire on October 6 that Hamas broke by its barbaric assault on peaceful civilians. During the recent suspension of hostilities in November, Hamas not only violated the temporary truce mere minutes after it began, but also perpetrated a terror shooting attack at a Jerusalem bus stop that claimed four lives.
In light of this background, Canada’s support for the UN’s one-sided ceasefire resolution stands devoid of moral clarity. Compounding this failure of global leadership is the contrasting position of several of our closest allies – including the US, UK, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands – who either voted against the resolution or abstained. And the fact that we received a thank you card from terrorists only adds to the disgrace.
Most perplexing, perhaps, is the fact that Canada’s vote defies its stated policy on UN resolutions concerning Israel. Therein, Canada observes its support for resolutions “rooted in international law [that] address fairly and constructively the obligations and responsibilities of all parties to the conflict.” Canada professes “a fair-minded approach,” expressing concern at the “polemical and repetitive nature” of many resolutions.
The UN resolution bears few hallmarks of fair-mindedness and consistency with international law. While the text of the resolution expresses “grave concern” for the Palestinian civilian population and the situation in Gaza, it makes no mention of the inexpressible suffering unleashed by Hamas on innocent Israelis of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
Nowhere in the resolution does one find even a fleeting reference to the widespread gang rape and mutilation of Israeli women and girls, or Hamas’ documented acts of torture and violence against children. Equally ignored are the more than 200,000 Israelis internally displaced since October 7 and the physical destruction of entire communities and towns.
This outcome – far from an oversight – resulted from a conscious choice amongst the international community to defeat two amendments that proposed to address Hamas by name.
The result? A resolution that not only fails to condemn Hamas, but entirely ignores the terrorist group’s indisputable role in instigating and perpetuating war – in particular through its ongoing refusal to release the approximately 130 hostages that remain in Gaza (amongst them women and children, including 11-month-old Kfir Bibas).
Still more, the resolution ignores Israel’s inherent and UN Charter-enshrined right to self-defence. One necessarily wonders why this crucial omission did not itself cement a “no” vote, especially given Canada’s public recognition of Israel’s right under international law to protect the security of its citizens from attacks by terrorist groups.
Welcomely, the Canadian vote at the UN does not reflect the views of the country’s second-largest province. In a powerful display of moral clarity and global leadership, Québec rejected Ottawa’s position, stating that Hamas must lay down its arms and release all hostages for a ceasefire to be considered.
While Quebeckers (myself included) might not get a thank you card from Hamas, they can take comfort in their courage to do what is right.