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Joly says she's pressed her Israeli counterpart for news of Canadians missing in Gaza

Israeli soldiers ride a military jeep as they return from southern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, February 12, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (REUTERS - image credit)
Israeli soldiers ride a military jeep as they return from southern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, February 12, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (REUTERS - image credit)

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Monday she has raised reports of three Canadians missing in Gaza with her Israeli counterpart.

Family members of Ahmed Elagha and his sons Borak and Hashem say they were taken by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in a raid on Thursday.

"This [dossier] is of the utmost priority for us," Joly said, adding one of her parliamentary secretaries — Pam Damoff, MP for Oakville-North Burlington — has also been in touch with relatives of the Elaghas.

"I look forward to speaking to the family as well," Joly said.

She said her department has also spoken to COGAT, the Israeli agency which coordinates with Palestinians on civilian affairs.

Yasmeen Elagha, a Chicago-based relative of the missing men, last week told the Canadian Press they were seeking shelter near the village of Khan Younis in southern Gaza when the IDF took them into custody, along with 17 other men of military age.

She said Ahmed Elagha is a Canadian citizen and his two sons have dual Canadian-American citizenship.

She added that three younger children — also Canadian citizens — and their mother Samar, who has Canadian permanent residency, were not taken.

Global Affairs Canada has said it is providing consular assistance to the family.

CBC News has also reached out to Israel's Canadian embassy for comment.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly speaking to the press  in Montreal, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. She now says she has spoken to her Israeli counterpart about reports of three Canadian men gone missing in Gaza, whom family says were taken by Israeli Defence Forces.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly speaking to the press in Montreal, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. She now says she has spoken to her Israeli counterpart about reports of three Canadian men gone missing in Gaza, whom family says were taken by Israeli Defence Forces.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly speaking to the press in Montreal, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. She now says she has spoken to her Israeli counterpart about reports of three Canadian men gone missing in Gaza, whom family says were taken by Israeli Defence Forces. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press)

Joly also announced she's headed to Washington D.C. to speak Tuesday about the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and with her Jordanian counterpart.

She expressed concern about recent Israeli air strikes in Rafah. Israel rescued two more hostages during the campaign but the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said 67 Palestinians were killed and dozens were injured in the raid. Rafah has become a refuge for about a million people who have been displaced by the four-month-long war.

"What the Netanyahu government is asking [Palestinians] to do, which is to leave again, is unacceptable," Joly said. "They have nowhere to go and so that's why we need right now for the violence to stop.

"We need a sustainable ceasefire. We need a hostage deal. Hostages must be released and humanitarian aid must go in."

The Gaza Health Ministry says roughly 28,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war in October, which began after a deadly attack by Hamas took the lives of an estimated 1,200 Israelis.