July 13, 2024

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Israel to ‘exercise maximum restraint’ in its war on Gaza.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for Israel to stop “killing babies,” earning a furious response from Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trudeau said on Tuesday that the “killing of women, of children, of babies” in the besieged Gaza Strip must end. Netanyahu pushed back, insisting that Hamas is responsible for civilian deaths as Israeli forces continue to batter the enclave.

“I urge the government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint,” Trudeau said in his sharpest criticism of Israel since the war on Gaza broke out more than five weeks ago. “The world is watching, on TV, on social media – we’re hearing the testimonies of doctors, family members, survivors, kids who have lost their parents.

“The world is witnessing this killing of women, of children, of babies. This has to stop,” he told a news conference in the western province of British Columbia.

In a post on X directed at Trudeau, early on Wednesday, Netanyahu said: “It is not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust.”

“The forces of civilization must back Israel in defeating Hamas barbarism,” Netanyahu continued.

Canada has maintained that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas after the Palestinian group attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people.

But it has also expressed increasing concern over the mounting death toll in the battered and besieged enclave, where more than 11,200 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since the conflict started.

“The price of justice cannot be the continued suffering of all Palestinian civilians,” Trudeau said on Tuesday. “All wars have rules. All innocent life has equal worth. Israeli and Palestinian.”

About 350 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and family members had been evacuated from Gaza, he added.

The Canadian leader also called on Hamas to stop using civilians as human shields and to release all hostages it took on October 7 “immediately and unconditionally”.

On X, Netanyahu said “Israel is doing everything to keep civilians out of harm’s way,” even as his army relentlessly bombards Gaza.

On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers raided the al-Shifa Hospital, which they have been attacking for days. Thousands of patients and displaced Palestinians are trapped inside, including dozens of premature babies who are fighting for their lives.

International rights groups have said Israel’s attacks on hospitals “should be investigated as war crimes”.

Last week, Trudeau called for a significant humanitarian pause in the conflict to allow for the release of all hostages and the delivery of enough aid to address civilian needs in Gaza.

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