Several Liberal MPs call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire

‘We have to see that this stops. This is not acceptable,’ says Montreal Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi

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OTTAWA — Some Liberal MPs are now suggesting they want an end to the hostilities between Israel and Hamas, with at least three calling for a ceasefire between the Jewish state and Hamas and another making an emotional plea to stop what he called the “butchery” in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Montreal Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi said the world must recognize that the Palestinian death toll is mounting, with over 4,000 people reported killed since the start of the war, which he said amounts to one out of 500 people amongst the two million inhabitants.

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“That’s because of bombardments that are falling on the heads of babies, of elderly seniors, of women and children, boys and girls and, yes, innocent adults who are both men and women,” Zuberi said as he was making his way to a caucus meeting with his party.

“We have to see that this stops. This is not acceptable.”

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Zuberi however fell short of calling for a ceasefire in the region, despite repeated attempts by reporters to clarify his position.

But Brampton Liberal MP Shafqat Ali’s answer to that same question outside the Liberal caucus was more definitive. “A ceasefire must be called,” he said, calling the explosion at a Gaza hospital “sad” and “heartbreaking.”

Two other Liberal MPs from the Greater Toronto Area, Iqra Khalid and Salma Zahid, also called for a ceasefire Tuesday on X.

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Zuberi, who served in the Canadian Armed Forces, said he was trained to follow the Geneva Conventions and that there are “rules to war.”

“If I was behind an artillery cannon and I knew this would fall on hospitals and schools, I would not push a trigger,” he said, his voice breaking and with tears in his eyes. “There have been about 20 hospitals that have been hit during this strike. This, this war… butchery is what it is.”

On Tuesday, an explosion at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza reportedly killed hundreds. Hamas said the hospital was attacked by Israel, but Israel has vigorously denied it and said it has evidence the explosion was the result of the hospital being hit by a failed rocket launched from Gaza by the group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israel’s Ambassador to Canada Iddo Moed said his country did not attack the hospital and has confirmed Palestinian Islamic Jihad was firing rockets at the time of the explosion. He said that Israel is aware of 450 rockets fired from within Gaza that landed in Gaza because they misfired since the war began.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who is visiting Israel, said he has information that the “other team” and not Israel was responsible for the attack.

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On Wednesday, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather said he doesn’t have information, but he is inclined to accept Biden’s information.

“We have to protect civilians as much as possible and I don’t have access to the same intelligence to know what happened. But if President Biden says that it was the other side well, I mean, President Biden does have access to that,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly responded to the attack online on Tuesday evening, writing on the social media platform X.

“Bombing a hospital is an unthinkable act, and there is no doubt that doing so is absolutely illegal,” she tweeted.

Joly’s parliamentary secretary, MP Rob Oliphant, said what is essential is that all sides follow the rules of war.

“I don’t know who’s responsible. I hear both claims. I hear both sides,” he said. “And I think that what we do know is that rules of war apply to everyone.”

Wednesday morning, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted “The attack on the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza is horrifying and against international humanitarian law. My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. Let’s be clear. There can be no justification to strike a hospital nor civilians.”

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The New Democrats have been calling for a ceasefire since the start of the week, as has Green Party co-leader Elizabeth May.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong told MPs earlier this week that Canada should “resist the temptation to call for a ceasefire” as long as the the Israel Defense Forces have not defeated the “existential threat to the state of Israel” that is the terrorist group Hamas.

Winnipeg Liberal MP Ben Carr has taken a similar position, arguing that if Hamas is not “dealt with,” it will simply rebuild stronger and continue to be a threat to Israel.

“So although we all want an end to this conflict as quickly as possible, there are steps that need to take place and, unfortunately, there are going to be casualties on both sides of this really devastating conflict,” he said.

Zuberi said he does not claim to have a “grand solution” to offer to put an end to the casualties nor did he have any advice on how the government’s stance should differ on the conflict.

“But we need to have people who are courageous, who lean into the conversation. Not like wrecking balls. Lean into the conversation. And take the hits,” he said.

Asked if that is what he was trying to do, he replied, “A hundred per cent.”

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Originally posted 2023-10-18 16:21:06.