Trudeau says it's 'imperative' that supplies get through Israel's Gaza siege

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is “imperative” that Israel respect international law and allow humanitarian access in the Gaza Strip, where one million people have been displaced in the first week of the war with terrorist organization Hamas.

Trudeau made those comments in the House of Commons on Monday, as MPs were returning from a break week. It was their first time reuniting since Hamas’s terror attacks on Oct. 7. Five Canadians were among the hundreds killed in the attack and three Canadians are missing, presumably kept as hostages by Hamas.

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“Canada fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law. And in Gaza, as elsewhere, international law, including humanitarian law, must be upheld by all. Even wars have rules,” said Trudeau.

Israel’s military has told Palestinian civilians to get out of the northern part of the Gaza Strip ahead of a possible ground invasion, and has demanded that Hamas return dozens of hostages taken from Israel. An exit agreement for civilians through Gaza’s southern border with Egypt that international negotiators had hoped for has not materialized.

Global Affairs Canada estimates that 300 Canadians, permanent residents and their families are attempting to flee Gaza, which has been under siege by Israel for days.

Civilians are running out of food, water and other necessities, while fuel supplies are running low. Canada has committed to sending $10 million in humanitarian aid, but getting supplies into Gaza cannot be done without an agreement for a humanitarian corridor.

“Canada is calling for unimpeded humanitarian access and a humanitarian corridor so that essential aid like food, fuel and water can be delivered to civilians in Gaza. It is imperative that this happen,” reiterated Trudeau.

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In a rare moment of unanimity, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre added his voice to the prime minister’s in calling for safe zones for civilians and said that it is “urgently important to minimize the suffering and protect the lives of Palestinians who had no part in these attacks”.

“Let it be said that the suffering of the Palestinian people is a tragedy. Every innocent human life, Palestinian or Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, Christian or otherwise is of equal, precious value,” he said.

Ottawa said it has managed to fly approximately 1,200 Canadians looking to leave Israel to Greece. Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly also said Monday that a bus carrying 21 Canadians left the West Bank and arrived in Jordan.

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Joly has also been urging Canadians in Lebanon to consider leaving while commercial flights remain available, warning that the conflict might escalate further in the Middle East.

Trudeau repeated his insistence that Hamas is solely to blame for the situation for its brutal attack that killed more than 1,300 Israelis and other foreign nationals. Israel estimates nearly 200 more are being held hostage by Hamas inside Gaza. Trudeau said that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people nor does it speak for Muslim or Arab communities.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization that slaughtered and brutalized innocent people. Hamas continues to commit unspeakable atrocities and are trying to instigate further acts of violence against Jewish people,” he said.

“Let me be clear about Hamas. They are not freedom fighters. They are not a resistance. They are terrorists,” he added.

Poilievre called Hamas a “sadistic, criminal, terrorist death cult” and said it “must be defeated.”

The House of Commons was set to hold an emergency debate on the situation in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank on Monday evening, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is expected to speak. This past weekend, delegates at the NDP convention adopted an emergency resolution calling for a ceasefire and for an end to Israel’s “total siege” of Gaza.

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Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet asked that all parties rise above partisanship in these difficult times, saying now is “not the moment to try and score points.” He said he would be calling for a briefing between the prime minister and other party leaders on the conflict.

“That would help create the necessary consensus which is needed for the Jewish community of Quebec and Canada, and the peaceful Muslim community of Quebec and Canada to feel safer and better represented by the Parliament of the country,” he said.

In his speech, Trudeau addressed the demonstrations occurring across the country in the wake of this conflict and called on Canadians to remain calm amid the international tension.

“Now more than ever, we have to unite. We have to avoid letting worries and suspicion separate us,” he said.

National Post

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Originally posted 2023-10-16 22:51:29.