July 23rd, 2024

Blair expected to face questions about Canada’s evidence on Gaza hospital strike

By The Canadian Press on October 23, 2023.

Minister of National Defence Bill Blair stands at the rear of a new ambulance variant to the armoured combat support vehicle fleet at Garrison Petawawa, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. Blair is expected to face further questions today about the evidence Canada has showing a rocket blast at a hospital in Gaza City originated within the Gaza Strip THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Defence Minister Bill Blair is expected to face further questions today about the evidence Canada has gathered to determine a rocket blast at a hospital in Gaza City did not originate in Israel.

Blair made the statement Saturday night, five days after the attack at the al-Ahli Arab hospital.

The blast came nine days after a renewed conflict in the region following an assault by Hamas militants in Israel and retaliation by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

Blair says the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command did its own analysis of evidence and reached a conclusion that aligns with findings of the United States and France.

Israel has said satellite evidence and intercepted communications show the rocket was fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and French authorities say the size of the rocket itself points to Palestinian not Israeli sources.

Canada did not provide details on what evidence it used to reach its conclusion.

A weekend conference in Egypt seeking a route to peace left more questions than answers about what may happen next in the conflict which saw 1,400 Israelis killed in the initial Hamas attack and at least 4,600 Palestinians in the subsequent Israeli airstrikes.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly was in attendance at the conference in Cairo and her office said she may be able to speak to reporters about the event today.

Canada has been calling for Israel and Egypt to do more to ensure needed humanitarian aid gets into Gaza. An initial small shipment of food, medical supplies and fuel was made over the weekend but the need is high.

Joly herself last week called Gaza the worst place in the world to live right now.

Egypt and Jordan both made clear at the summit that they will not allow Israel to push 2.3 million Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip, while Israel has made clear it intends to continue its military action until Hamas has been rooted out.

The latest conflict began on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants attacked Israel with rockets and a ground assault across the border with the Gaza Strip border, hitting a music festival and several agricultural co-operatives known as kibbutzim.

The attack killed 1,400 people, including at least six Canadians, injured several thousand others and saw Hamas take more than 200 people hostage, including children.

Israel responded with force, firing rockets into Gaza, and the fighting has since killed an estimated 4,600 Palestinians.

Hamas is a militant organization that took control in the Gaza Strip in 2007. Canada has labelled them a terrorist organization since 2002.

Israel and Egypt both blockaded Gaza after Hamas took over.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2023.

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