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US and Canada respond to Israel-Hamas war

US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, meets with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, meets with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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The war between Israel and Hamas has left thousands dead, injured, and taken hostage. Among the dead so far are at least 25 Americans and three Canadians. More nationals from each country are feared dead or missing.

Both the American and Canadian governments are under pressure to get citizens home from Israel and Gaza quickly. On Tuesday, roughly 150 members of Congress shared an open letter urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the State Department to use “all resources at its disposal” to evacuate Americans. The Canadian government, under similar pressure, just announced that it will give $10 million in humanitarian aid to address urgent needs in Israel and Gaza.

On Wednesday, the first plane carrying Canadians left Israel – a privately organized flight. On the same day, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly confirmed that Canada would deploy military aircraft to shuttle Canadian citizens and permanent residents out of Israel, from Tel Aviv to Athens, and the first flight set off on Thursday. The plan doesn’t apply to the roughly 70 Canadians in Gaza. The government says it is difficult to reach them.

The United States also plans to send planes to begin evacuating Americans. President Joe Biden has said the State Department is providing consular assistance and that those who wish to leave should make use of “commercial flights and ground options.”

The US has moved to provide Israel with more military aid, including interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome system, which employs advanced tracking technology and anti-missile batteries to shoot down incoming rockets and mortars. But further support may be hampered by Congress, which must approve the required spending, because the House of Representatives currently lacks an elected speaker. For now at least, congressional business has ground to a halt. The US has also sent the USS Gerald R. Ford to the eastern Mediterranean and has offered access to a second aircraft carrier in the region.

Canada has not announced military aid but is sending humanitarian aid to Palestinians, which it says will not go to Hamas.


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