Canada's Defence Minister says Hamas must be 'eliminated,' dismisses calls for a ceasefire

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OTTAWA — Defence Minister Bill Blair said that Hamas needs to be “eliminated” for the benefit of the whole world. And he dismissed growing calls, including from within his own caucus, for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

“I have no expectation that a terrorist organization would respect international law or any call for a ceasefire,” Blair told reporters on his way to a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning.

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Last week, nearly two dozen Liberal MPs co-signed a letter with NDP and Green MPs calling for Canada to join the international calls for an “immediate ceasefire.” The Bloc Québécois has since then been calling for a “temporary ceasefire” to allow more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

But Conservatives and a number of Liberals have maintained that Israel has a right to defend itself after the massive terrorist attack by Hamas, which saw 200 hostages taken and more than 1,400 people killed, mostly civilians. Many MPs have said Hamas needs to be destroyed before entertaining the idea of a ceasefire in the region, arguing that a pause in hostilities would allow the terrorist organization to regroup and continue to threaten Israel.

On Monday, Global Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly had called for a de-escalation of the war, but had stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.

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Blair’s blunt comments Tuesday are the furthest a government minister has gone in stating why Canada is not supporting calls for a ceasefire.

“We are discussing ways in which we can make sure that humanitarian aid gets to those innocent civilians who are in a very difficult situation but at the same time, and we’ve been very clear, we support Israel’s right to defend itself,” he said.

He added that Israel was the victim of a “horrific” terrorist attack and that that threat still exists for the Jewish state.

“I think they have a right to defend themselves against a terrorist threat, and quite frankly, Hamas has to be eliminated as a threat, not just to Israel but to the world,” he said.

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Originally posted 2023-10-24 16:23:52.