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3 Canadians may be held hostage by Hamas, Trudeau calls for release

Prime Minister: ‘Canada asks Hamas to free all the hostages immediately’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling on Hamas to immediately release its hostages, which may include at least three Canadians. Trudeau participates in a roundtable at the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce in Yellowknife, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Angela Gzowski

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Hamas to immediately release the people being held hostage in Gaza, which he says may include at least three missing Canadians.

Trudeau spoke in Parliament for the first time Monday since fighters stormed into Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, killing hundreds of people and taking a reported 199 people hostage.

“Five Canadians were murdered by Hamas terrorists. Three Canadians are reported missing and may be hostages,” he told MPs in the House of Commons.

He continued in French, saying, “Canada asks Hamas to free all the hostages immediately.”

Canada has listed Hamas as a terrorist entity.

As family members in Canada and other countries struggle to find their missing relatives, Canadian officials have declined to provide details about any potential hostages, warning that doing so could affect their safety.

Trudeau said around 1,300 passengers have left Israel aboard flights arranged by the Canadian Armed Forces. Earlier in the day, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly confirmed a group of Canadians have also crossed safely from the West Bank into neighbouring Jordan as the violence continues.

The federal government says 21 Canadians, plus 10 people from Australia and New Zealand, took a bus out of the Palestinian territory, which Israel has occupied since 1967 and where it has established numerous Jewish settlements.

But the situation in Gaza is much more dire. Israel has further blockaded the territory and has cut access to electricity, food, water and humanitarian aide. More than a million people have been displaced from their homes as bombs continue to fall and the UN has warned that hospitals are about to run out of fuel and supplies.

Trudeau acknowledged the worsening humanitarian crisis and called for “unimpeded humanitarian access and a humanitarian corridor so that essential aide like food, fuel and water can be delivered to civilians in Gaza.”

“It is imperative that this happen.”

However, he did not call for a ceasefire, as NDP MP Heather McPherson did earlier during Question Period, and stopped short of calling for Israel to end its bombardment of the 2.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

Canada was still working to get up to 300 citizens and their relatives out of Gaza, which is braced for an expected ground invasion by Israeli forces.

READ ALSO: Bus with first 21 departing Canadians exits West Bank into Jordan