July 23rd, 2024

Israel welcomes Canada’s conclusion that Israel didn’t strike hospital in Gaza

By Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press on October 22, 2023.

OTTAWA – Israel is “pleased” that Canada has joined the United States and France in believing that an explosion at a Gaza City hospital last week was fired by an errant rocket from within the Gaza Strip, the Israeli ambassador in Ottawa said Sunday.

“The loss of life at the al-Ahli Arab hospital was a tragedy that should horrify any human being and it is a reminder of the double war crimes against Palestinians and Israelis that are committed by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza,” Iddo Moed said in a statement.

The rocket fired at the hospital Oct. 17 became a new flashpoint in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas as both sides blamed each other for the tragedy.

Canadian Defence Minister Bill Blair issued a statement late Saturday night saying an independent analysis by the Canadian Forces gives the government a “high degree of confidence” that the rocket did not come from Israel.

Canada was slower than some of its allies to reach that conclusion. During a visit to Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, US. President Joe Biden said American defence intelligence showed the rocket came from within Gaza, and France said its military had reached the same conclusion on Oct. 20.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Blair on Oct. 17 to have the Canadian military conduct its own assessment. On Oct. 19 he said Canada had seen some “preliminary evidence” but would take the “necessary time to look carefully” and work with allies to reach a firm conclusion.

The Canadian military assessment delivered its first report Saturday, and Blair and Trudeau were both briefed on the findings before Blair made the conclusion public just before 10 p.m.

Canada has not yet assigned specific blame for the source of the rocket. Moed said he believes further analysis from Canada will also conclude the rocket was fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The PIJ is the second-largest armed group in Gaza, whose sole objective is a military victory over Israel to establish an Islamic State across all of Israel, along with the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel blames the PIJ for the rocket, and American officials told the New York Times their preliminary evidence also pointed to the PIJ.

“As Canada provides further updates, Israel is assured that other findings uncovered by the Israeli Defense Forces, including the culpability of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, will be identified by Canada as the source of this war crime,” Moed said.

The latest escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza erupted on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants, who control the Gaza Strip, launched a multi-pronged attack on Israel from the air and the ground. At least 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 200 people – including children – were taken hostage by Hamas, which Canada has designated as a terrorist organization since 2002.

Israel responded with force, cutting off power and supplies to the two million people who live in the Gaza Strip and launching its own rocket attacks into the area.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorated quickly and Canada was among the countries who backed Israel’s right to defend itself while calling for Israel and Egypt, which controls access to Gaza from the south, to allow in aid.

Both Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza since Hamas took control of the small strip of land in 2007.

The Palestinian death toll is now estimated to be over 4,600 people.

Aid began moving slowly into Gaza from Egypt Saturday including fuel, food and medical supplies.

That same day, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced an additional $50 million in funding for humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip and reiterated Canada’s request for aid to be allowed into the territory.

Joly and International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen are also in Cairo this weekend for what is being billed as a peace summit.

The ministers were expected to discuss efforts to help some 400 Canadians leave Gaza.

The Canadian government has helped 33 people out of the West Bank and nearly 1,600 people out of Israel since the conflict began, with a final military evacuation flight expected out of Tel Aviv on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2023.

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