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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departs from the Embassy of Canada after holding a news conference following the inaugural Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity summit in Washington on Nov. 3.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

More than 400 Canadians and their family members in the Gaza Strip will be allowed to leave but the departures will not start until Sunday at the earliest, according to a message from the federal government to Canadians in the Palestinian territory.

The Friday message said Canadians will be given specific dates on which to cross at Rafah into Egypt and must be prepared to travel on short notice.

“The situation at the Rafah crossing remains fluid and unpredictable,” the note warned. “Canada does not determine who is ultimately permitted to enter Egypt at the Rafah border crossing.”

Just one Canadian has so far gotten out of Gaza since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacres in Israel even as foreigners from other countries have been allowed to leave this week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not say on Friday why most Canadians have not been let out so far but said he believed this would be rectified shortly. He said both Israel and Egypt had assured Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly that Canadians will soon be allowed to leave.

“We are working with the Israelis, with the Egyptians, with the Americans, with everyone to try to get Canadians and their families out as quickly as possible,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters at the Canadian embassy in Washington after attending an economic summit at the White House with Latin American and Caribbean leaders. “We are very hopeful that we will see them in the days to come.”

The Prime Minister met privately with U.S. President Joe Biden ahead of the summit to discuss their shared call for a “humanitarian pause” to the fighting in the besieged enclave.

The White House said Friday that 100 U.S. citizens had left through Rafah Thursday and more were expected to get out shortly. “They are coming home, a lot of people,” Mr. Biden said during a photo opportunity with fellow leaders for the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.

Canadians denied permission to leave Gaza Strip Thursday, Ottawa urges ‘humanitarian pause’

Citizens of Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, Japan and Jordan, as well as employees of aid agencies, have also been allowed to leave. The U.S. previously said Hamas had been barring foreigners from leaving.

The message to Canadians in Gaza on Friday said Canadian consular officials were standing by on the Egyptian side of Rafah to arrange bus travel to Cairo and will provide food and shelter. Travellers must be out of Egypt within 72 hours, the note said. The Canadian government will lend money to those who cannot afford to travel.

Mr. Trudeau said there “need to be consequences for Hamas for its horrific, unacceptable terrorist attack” and called for the group to immediately release the 240 hostages it took. He also called for more aid to reach Gaza, where Israel has been blocking imports of food, water, electricity and fuel since Oct. 7. Humanitarian aid has been getting in through Rafah, but at a far slower rate than before the war.

“We have to ask ourselves whether the cost of justice has to be that all Palestinian civilians suffer,” the Prime Minister said. “That is why we’re calling for humanitarian pauses as quickly as possible to protect civilian life.”

Mr. Trudeau said “we need to see ceasing of the levels of violence that we’re seeing” and called for “innocent civilians to be protected in Gaza and, increasingly, in the West Bank, including from extremist settlers.”

With a report from Steven Chase in Ottawa

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