Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is holding off on taking laying the blame over the recent bombing of a hospital in Gaza that left hundreds dead and many more wounded.
Canadians are applying pressure to the prime minister to issue a response to the blast at the al Ahli Arab hospital, especially after allies Israel and the U.S. held Hamas accountable based on their intelligence.
Trudeau has been fielding questions from the media since asking for more time on Thursday.
"Civilian life must always be protected, and international and humanitarian law must always be respected. We are working closely with allies to determine exactly what happened," PM Trudeau tells media when asked about Gaza hospital blast and if he will visit Israel.#cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/X9ElNsBzsl
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) October 19, 2023
During an Ontario press conference on Friday, Trudeau was asked “what evidence are you waiting for” before assigning responsibility in the Gaza hospital bombing.
"We are working with our allies internationally to make sure that we can determine exactly what happened," said Trudeau.
The prime minister’s comments received a mixed reaction from the public, with a major Jewish advocacy organization urging the government to provide more clarity on the comments made.
“We are calling on the Government of Canada to retract and clarify its earlier comments that can only be interpreted as giving credence to the false narrative of the Hamas terror group,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said to Yahoo News Canada.
On Tuesday, the Gaza Health Ministry blamed Israel for targeting the hospital in Gaza with airstrikes which resulted in more civilians dying.
Trudeau said it was "absolutely unacceptable" to hit a hospital.
“Using lies and disinformation is a longstanding Hamas tactic. It is further imperative to remember that the Health Ministry in Gaza is run by Hamas, a listed terrorist entity according to Canadian law. Any information published by them, and other Gaza-based ‘government’ sources should, at the very least, be thoroughly vetted before being shared publicly, particularly given efforts by these groups to delegitimize Israel,” CIJA told Yahoo News Canada.
On the contrary, the National Council of Canadian Muslims is imploring Canadians to see all sides of the story before jumping to conclusions.
“We have condemned the Al Ahli hospital attack, period. The focus should be on those who have lost loved ones in a place filled with people looking for shelter from danger. We would point to the recent revelation disclosed by Al Araby TV, that church officials running the hospital said they received three separate warnings from Israeli forces saying that the latter were going to strike the hospital,” NCCM spokesperson Steven Zhou told Yahoo News Canada.
“Furthermore, we want to point observers to the fact that Israeli forces have issued warnings to dozens of hospitals, including Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza City.”
This comes as U.S. President Joe Biden indicated during his visit to Israel on Wednesday that based on what he had seen, it appears as if the strike "was done by the other team."
“It’s deeply disappointing that, despite the assurances of our US ally and the mounting evidence that Israel was not responsible for the hospital blast, the Prime Minister continues to give weight to the false narrative being pushed by the Hamas terror group,” CIJA said.
Canadian social media users, too, shared their take on how the recent developments in the Middle East are impacting domestic politics considering the next election isn’t too far.
This Canadian is proud to have a leader who won’t be bullied into making premature statements that will potentially affect millions of lives.
I applaud your resolve and your steadfast adherence to the principles that make us Canadian.
— Scribulatora (@Scribulatora) October 20, 2023
Some 72 hours after all of Canada’s major allies concluded that Israel was not responsible for the explosion in the parking lot of a hospital in Gaza, Trudeau still can’t bring himself to state the obvious. Clearly the anti-Israel faction of his caucus is more powerful than ever. https://t.co/rYP2KiKi6K
— Lee Humphrey (@tleehumphrey) October 20, 2023
The CIJA maintained that Canadian officials must be responsible in verifying information before making comments, especially in times of war.
“These false, ill-advised statements have fueled hateful rhetoric targeting Jews online and on our streets, including Jewish students on campus and attendees at an antisemitism conference in Ottawa.”
The NCCM, on the other hand, urge Canadian leaders to call for an immediate ceasefire and prevent “unconscionable” killing of thousands of Gaza civilians.
“The killing of thousands of civilians inside of Gaza in unconscionable. The killing of over 1,000 children is utterly appalling and shocking,” NCCM said.
“All our leaders need to take a stand to work for a ceasefire, and a just peace.”
With all eyes set on Ottawa’s next response that hopefully clears the air on the government’s stance over the hospital bombing in Gaza, CIJA acknowledged Canada’s support for Israel but demanded more.
“We acknowledge Canada's support and solidarity with Israel since the beginning of this mos t recent crisis, but it is a matter of urgency for the Government of Canada to set the record straight.”