A first group of Canadians who were stranded in Gaza since war broke out last month have now been evacuated, the federal government says.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says Canadian diplomats met the group on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing and are providing them with “support and care.”
“I know families and loved ones have been waiting anxiously,” Joly said in a video posted to X on Tuesday morning. “I would like to thank my Egyptian, Israeli and Qatari counterparts for making this operation successful.”
“Looking forward to seeing all Canadians evacuated, you can be rest assured that this is our number on priority.”
A cohort of Canadian citizens and their loved ones were finally given the green light Tuesday to flee Gaza for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war began a month ago.
An approved evacuation list from the General Authority for Border Crossings in Gaza lists about 80 people connected to Canada who have been granted permission to leave through the Rafah border crossing.
The list, as presented on a widely shared Google spreadsheet, shows about 20 people listed as Canadian citizens, while the remaining are Palestinian or dual citizens.
The document also contains names of other foreign nationals from countries including France, the Phillippines, Ukraine, Moldova, Germany, and the United Kingdom who’ve been granted permission to leave.
The Canadian embassy in Egypt has said it has a team of consular officials ready to assist Canadians, permanent residents and their family members as soon as they cross at Rafah into Egypt. A bus is to take them to their accommodations in Cairo.
The breakthrough comes after Canada told citizens trapped in the besieged Palestinian territory that they could be allowed out over the weekend but attacks by Israel closed the Rafah crossing until Monday.
Rafah is the only exit for foreign nationals who wish to leave the Palestinian territory, which has been under constant bombardment since the Israeli army launched retaliatory attacks for the brutal Oct. 7 incursion by Hamas.
Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Monday the Israeli military has assured Canada that more than 400 of its citizens will be able to cross “in the coming days” and added that three have already escaped with a third party, though they offered no further details.
Meanwhile, the federal agency added it is in contact with 600 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their family members in the territory.