Canadian-Israelis who lost family on Oct. 7 criticize a motion halting arm sales to Israel and say Ottawa must sanction terrorist groups

Brandon Silver, a lawyer with the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, introduced four speakers at a press conference on March 20, 2024. (Credit: CPAC-TV)

Canadian-Israelis whose family members were murdered or kidnapped during the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks are urging the government to exert international pressure to free the hostages still in Gaza, while expressing their anger with Canada’s recent political moves in the Middle East.

The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, which is working with the hostage families, has submitted the names of more than 60 individuals and entities who are funding terror and has asked the government to impose financial sanctions on them, Brandon Silver, a human rights lawyer with the centre said.

“We’re calling on the Canadian government to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and to impose Magnitsky sanctions against the leaders of Hamas and PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and of the various businesses and organizations that funnel in money,” Silver said during an Ottawa press conference on March 20.

“All the crimes you heard described today were funded, trained, organized systematically and synchronized, not just by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations but by those who control them, which is the Iranian regime and its Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp.”

Silver also singled out the organization Samidoun for its ties to the Popular Liberation Front for Palestine, which is a listed terrorist group in Canada. Samidoun, which was banned in Germany in November 2023, is established in Canada, where it has been one of the organizers of anti-Israel rallies.

“The same organizations that are organizing hate rallies… are sending money to support these attacks and Canada must take action,” Silver said.

Silver was joined by several Canadian women whose families were murdered on Oct. 7 during the Hamas attacks when terrorists killed over 1,200 Israelis and took 240 people hostage in Gaza.  It is not known how many of the 134 people still being held in Gaza remain alive.

Ashley Waxman Bakshi, an Israeli-Canadian with a high profile on social media—whose 19-year-old cousin Agam Berger was kidnapped by Hamas—criticized a motion passed in the House of Commons March 18 that will halt arm sales to Israel.

“What message are we sending not only to Hamas, but to every terrorist around the world? You are telling every single Israeli that they don’t have a right to defend themselves. You are telling Agam and the 134 hostages that they don’t have a right to come home,” she said.

“We know from released hostages that there is rape and she could be pregnant. There is nothing we can do. If I could, I would run into Gaza and take her out myself.”

The non-binding motion, proposed by the NDP, had originally demanded immediate recognition of a Palestinian state, but a late-night amendment softened it to reflect Canada’s existing policy that a Palestinian state should only come as part of a negotiated peace deal.

In addition to the halt on weapon sales to Israel, the motion called for an immediate ceasefire and reinstated funding for UNRWA. It also called for the immediate release of Israeli hostages and blamed Hamas for the murders and kidnappings of Israelis.

“Seeing our hostages being used for internal Canadian politics, for me as a Canadian watching the vote pass, felt like the knife that had been stabbed in my heart on Oct. 7 was being pushed deeper and deeper by my own government.”

Iris Weinstein-Haggai’s parents, Judih and Gad, were killed by Hamas terrorists while they were on a “beautiful Saturday walk just like every day,” near their home on Kibbutz Nir Oz, she said. It took 83 days before she learned that her mother had been shot and killed, alongside her father.

Their bodies were taken to Gaza and have not been released.

Judih was born in the United States and moved to Canada as a child. The American government has been more responsive than Canada’s, meeting and updating hostage families regularly, Iris said.

“I’m asking the Canadian government to help me get my Canadian mother out of there so I can bury her,” she said. “Every Canadian deserves to be buried respectfully. I deserve to bury my mom. “

Judih’s 95-year-old mother in Toronto is still waiting for her daughter to be buried, Iris said.

“It’s not Jews against Palestinians, it’s right against wrong, terror groups against innocent civilians. Please help me get my mom out and 134 hostages,” she said.

Jacqui Rivers-Vital, originally from Ottawa, described the fatal shooting of her daughter Adi Vital-Kaploun on Kibbutz Holit in front of her two little boys, as they sheltered in a safe room.

The children were taken by Hamas gunmen across the border to Gaza but were released to a neighbour and returned to their kibbutz under gunfire.

Rivers-Vital’s husband was also on the kibbutz that day but was not harmed. Another daughter and her family who were on a different kibbutz in the south hid in a safe room for 12 hours but were also safe, she said.

“Nine of 10 family members were saved but that doesn’t help. Adi was murdered,” she said.