Israel's Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: Hands off Rafah

It has been seven months since the attacks of October 7th and Israel’s war on Gaza began. Seven months of explosive weapons used in populated areas, seven months of civilian casualties, and seven months of the Canadian government's failure to fully implement the Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA) political declaration. Again we are forced to remind the world that civilians should never be the target, though this time with increased urgency as the world watches the horrific situation unfold in Rafah. 

The use of explosive weapons during an invasion of Rafah would be an egregious use of EWIPA. Rafah is a densely populated area and is reported to be sheltering 17 500 individuals per square kilometer (for reference Toronto has a population density of 4 149 individuals per square kilometer). An Israeli incursion would be disastrous, exacerbating an already dire situation. There are over a million civilians crammed in Rafah, over a million people who now are at extreme risk of EWIPA in the last place that was thought to be safe. 

Rafah, an area of the Gaza strip which borders Egypt, was at one point declared a safe zone for civilians. Civilians across Gaza have made journeys south to Rafah since the initial Israeli incursion. The Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres stated that assaulting Rafah would be a humanitarian nightmare. The people in Rafah need our support and our efforts to halt the horrific impacts witnessed as a result of EWIPA. For seven months the Canadian Government has ignored their commitments to the EWIPA declaration by not condemning any and all use of EWIPA, which includes Israel. Although Canada considers Israel an ally, it is important to condemn allies as well when they are using EWIPA. If Canada is selective on when they apply the EWIPA Declaration, it risks becoming a politicized tool. We are witnessing attacks on the over a million people sheltering in Rafah, the time to take action is now, you can make your voice heard, and help prevent further devastation in Rafah.

Developments in the Canadian Parliament from March demonstrate that writing to the Members of Parliament does influence change. In response to an NDP motion regarding solutions towards peace and justice in Gaza, Liberal MP Erksine- Smith cited that he was influenced in his decision to support the motion due to an influx of people writing to him. We must act to end the horrific use of EWIPA. Write to your Member of Parliament, attend protests, boycott companies profiting from this ongoing tragedy and hold the Canadian Government accountable to its commitment to end the atrocious suffering  caused by explosive weapons in residential areas. 

Written by Leah Bauer, student in Politics and International Relations at Western University and volunteer at Mines Action Canada