‘High level of trust’ Israel did not attack Gaza hospital: Blair

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Ottawa has a “high level of confidence” that Israel did not attack Gaza City’s al-Ahli hospital on Tuesday following an independent review by the Canadian military, Defense Minister Bill Blair said in a statement late Saturday evening.

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Canada believes the more likely scenario is that the attack was caused by a “stray rocket” fired from the Gaza Strip, Blair’s statement said.

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The statement from Ottawa came days after the United States said its own review found Israel was not responsible for the hospital explosion that killed hundreds of people, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

President Joe Biden said during a visit to Israel on Wednesday that he was confident that the “other team” was in charge.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that his government is taking “all necessary steps” to form its own picture of what happened as he came under pressure to state Canada’s position on the matter.

The Canadian Armed Forces Intelligence Command conducted its own “review and analysis” at the prime minister’s request, Blair’s statement said.

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A Defense Ministry statement on Saturday evening said the analysis was based on open source and classified reports.

“This assessment is based on an analysis of the blast damage to the hospital complex, including adjacent buildings and the area surrounding the hospital, as well as the flight pattern of incoming munitions,” the statement said.

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Reports from Canada’s allies confirm the findings, the Defense Department added.

The defense minister promised the government would “continue to provide updates as new information becomes available” and reiterated Canada’s “sincere condolences” to all those who lost loved ones in the explosion.

After the explosion on October 17, Hamas quickly blamed an Israeli military airstrike for the carnage. But Israel then released images that supposedly proved it was a backfire from Gaza.

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A senior French military official told the Associated Press on Friday that its own intelligence review also found Israel was not responsible, while the United Nations called for an independent investigation.

The latest conflict had begun 10 days earlier when Hamas militants crossed the border into Israel and carried out a series of brazen attacks on civilians.

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Israel retaliated by launching airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and laying siege to the area. His military is said to be preparing for a ground attack.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, a total of more than 4,300 people were killed in Gaza. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, most of them in the surprise attacks on October 7th.

The Canadian government has classified Hamas as a terrorist entity since 2002.

– With files from The Associated Press.

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