Israel’s embassy claims Ottawa has relaxed security despite the threats | Techno Glob


Israel’s embassy in Ottawa says it is feeling the threat of violence nearly three years after global affairs pressured Canada to step up its security.

It is extremely rare for embassies and consulates to go public with their security concerns, but the Israeli embassy provided two senior officials for interviews on the matter.

The Canadian Press granted interviews with the two officials on condition of anonymity because the staff feared that hostility directed at diplomatic missions could target individual staff.

Officials said the RCMP reduced security for the head of the Israeli mission shortly after Nimrod Barkan, Israel’s former ambassador to Canada, retired in November 2019.

The RCMP would not confirm any details, but the embassy said the force has stopped providing the VIP protection detail, which covers the ambassador around the clock between the embassy and official residence.

Israel has not appointed an ambassador due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving a charge d’affaires to lead the embassy while Ottawa is one of the most closed capitals on the planet.

When Israel’s current ambassador to Canada, Ronen Hoffman, begins his term in December 2021, Israeli embassy officials demand that he be given the same protection as his predecessor.

The embassy says the protocol office at Global Affairs Canada rejected that request in formal diplomatic notes, as did the RCMP in a meeting.

Officials said they tried in vain to request a meeting with the protocol office and the RCMP to resolve the issue.

In a statement, the RCMP wrote that “it would not be appropriate to disclose specific details” of discussions with any embassies.

“The RCMP’s Protective Operations (Branch) is constantly evaluating and adapting its security and protective posture. This is based on the current and evolving threat and risk environment,” read the statement, which was not attributed to a specific spokesperson. .

Global Affairs Canada pushed back on that RCMP statement.

The embassy receives threats

The Israeli Embassy is located in an office tower three streets south of Parliament Hill. Its suite number only appears on a few pages of its website and the floor is not listed on the office tower’s directory screen.

The embassy shared social media postings by activists protesting Israeli policies toward Palestinians, in which they show floor maps of the embassy’s location and photos of hallways.

Employees also shared what they said was a recent voicemail, in which an unidentified voice says, “We’ll kill you wherever you are; we’ll get you.”

The unnamed officials reported an increase in antisemitic incidents documented by the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Breathe Canada.

In April, the group reported a major jump in anti-Semitic incidents, from nine in 2020 to 75 in 2021, including beatings, vandalism of synagogues and swastikas in schools.

Israel’s embassy says it is now protected, as are most diplomatic missions in the national capital region.

According to a recent chief of protocol overseeing the security of embassies in Canada, it’s like police driving past an embassy building at random intervals.

An RCMP officer sits in her vehicle outside the Embassy of France in Ottawa on November 14, 2015. The Israeli embassy in Ottawa says it is now afforded the same protection as other embassies, which amounts to walking past a building that houses police. Embassies at random intervals, according to the recent chief of protocol overseeing the security of embassies in Canada. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Global Affairs Canada officials also make regular calls with all embassies in Ottawa and Gatineau, including to touch on any security concerns or upcoming events that could lead to major protests.

The department also collects intelligence and receives updates from two municipalities regarding permits for demonstrations outside the embassy.

Global Affairs Canada sends this information along with notifications when the department feels that a diplomatic mission could benefit from increased security for specific days or permanent, round-the-clock surveillance.

The RCMP contacts CSIS and makes the final decision on how much protection the Mounties provide.

Under the Vienna Convention of 1961, countries are responsible for protecting diplomats when they formally receive ambassadors abroad.

But that duty depends on interpretation, and it’s rare for Canada to offer round-the-clock protection to embassies, the former protocol chief said, noting that Ottawa is much safer than most capitals.

Israeli embassy staff said they did not feel safe in this environment because no one in their delegation could react quickly to threats.

The embassy has some security officers and has considered hiring private guards, but neither has the authority to ask for identification from people acting suspiciously or loitering outside the embassy.

Officials said the embassy has friendly relations with Canada and is trying to challenge diplomatic immunity for staff to go outside their jurisdiction, such as by trying to identify people.

Last month, Moscow summoned Canada’s ambassador out of frustration over Ottawa’s handling of security issues at its embassy.

The delegation posted security-camera footage showing Molotov cocktails being thrown over the fence in the early hours of September 12 and claimed the RCMP was not taking the issue seriously enough.

The Russian embassy alleged that Ottawa police looked into it when protesters at a Ukraine rally allegedly blocked access to the consular service on September 8.

Ottawa has said it is reviewing those incidents, with no police force going into detail.



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