Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Canada expresses concern over jail raid

[17 March, 2006]

JEFF SALLOT

Ottawa — Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay says he’s told Israel that Canada is concerned about the way its military raided the Palestinian jail in Jericho on Tuesday.

Asked at a news conference yesterday whether the Israeli incursion into Palestinian territory in the West Bank might be seen as a provocation, Mr. MacKay said he spoke by phone with his Israeli counterpart earlier in the day "about the strikes that occurred. We expressed concern on behalf of Canada that this had happened in such a fashion. I don’t want to get into characterizations of what took place."

Canada continues to pursue a balanced policy toward the Middle East, including providing assistance to Palestinians in Gaza, he said.

A 57-year-old Canadian aid worker was held hostage by Palestinian gunmen for almost 30 hours in the furious aftermath of the Jericho raid. Adam Budzanowski of Toronto was one of 11 foreigners kidnapped Tuesday. All were eventually released.

Mr. MacKay said Canada will do all it can to protect its nationals abroad, but "there is no denying the dangers" when aid workers operate in the Middle East. They realize the risks, but are driven by strong humanitarian motives, he added.