"Occupation is an important concept because occupying powers have certain legal obligations under international law. For CBC to diminish the claim of occupation is to downplay the importance of this claim. The Canadian public deserves to know the facts."
January 31, 2024
Nancy Waugh, CBC
George Achi, CBC
Brodie Fenlon, CBC
Jack Nagler, CBC
Dear Nancy Waugh, George Achi, Brodie Fenlon, and Jack Nagler,
I’m writing to express alarm regarding a statement in “In the absence of an official Israeli postwar plan, settlers push their goal of a Jewish Gaza” by Chris Brown.
Mr. Brown writes:
Israel occupied the Gaza Strip between 1967 and 2005, when it withdrew its military and forcibly evacuated 21 Jewish settlements in the territory.
A caption of a photograph also reads:
Avi Farhan, centre, was forced to leave an Israeli settlement in Gaza in 2005, when it was evacuated and demolished after Israel's military occupation of the territory ended. He told CBC News he longs to return.
Note that this is a view not held by the vast majority of the international community and constitutes a radical interpretation of international law.
To understand how unusual CBC’s view is, consider that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, UN General Assembly (UNGA), European Union (EU), African Union, International Criminal Court (ICC) (both Pre-Trial Chamber I and the Office of the Prosecutor), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, as well as many international legal experts and organizations argue that Israel has occupied Palestinian territories including Gaza since 1967.
Under international law, an occupation does not depend on whether a foreign power has a direct ground troop presence in a territory, but on whether it asserts “effective control.” Importantly, since the events of October 7, Israel has brought troops back into Gaza and launched a totalizing blockade. The previous arguments used by Israel and a small number of allies to argue that Israel was not an occupying power no longer apply. By all definitions, Gaza is occupied Palestinian territory.
Occupation is an important concept because occupying powers have certain legal obligations under international law. For CBC to diminish the claim of occupation is to downplay the importance of this claim. The Canadian public deserves to know the facts.
I am urging CBC to clarify its editorial position on this issue and update its article(s) accordingly.
Last year, a similar issue was raised by my organization. On April 5, 2023, a CBC Radio presenter on the World at Six accurately described the Gaza Strip as 'occupied,' as part of an excellent series on events in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The following day, however, CBC aired an erroneous correction which claimed: “Last night, we made a reference to the Gaza Strip being ‘occupied.’ The territory is not occupied, but rather has its borders controlled by Israel and Egypt.”
After our complaint about the on-air correction, CBC made another update, noted on your corrections page:
On April 5, 2023, CBC Radio referred to the Gaza Strip being occupied. While Israel continues to control most of the flow of people and goods into and out of the Gaza strip, which to some analysts constitutes a continued occupation, it ended its permanent military presence there in 2005. An on-air clarification was broadcast April 6, and this clarification note was published to specify that Israel doesn't consider Gaza to be occupied. This clarification note has since been updated to describe Gaza's status more precisely.
The language used by Chris Brown once again raises similar issues.
Director of Media Advocacy, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
 Atlantic Council, “Israel claims it is no longer occupying the Gaza Strip. What does international law say?” October 31, 2023, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/gaza-israel-occupied-international-law/.