The fact that Israel was not responsible for the Gaza hospital bombing earlier this week was accepted by our allies, but not by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
On Thursday, Trudeau said he and his government need to take time to make sure we get this right.
This answer might have some credibility if Canada had the means to assess a bomb explosion on the other side of the planet, but we don’t.
US President Joe Biden said the evidence was clear: “It was done by the other team.” This is confirmed not only by the White House, but also by intelligence agencies and experts around the world. The European Union said the blast killed dozens of people, not the hundreds initially claimed.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry’s initial claim on Tuesday evening was that an Israeli rocket hit Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, killing up to 500 people. This news, which arrived in the dark of night, sparked condemnation around the world for what would obviously have been an illegal act even in wartime.
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However, as the morning light allowed for a fuller examination of the facts, a different picture emerged.
It wasn’t the hospital building that was hit, but a parking lot next to it. The evidence also suggested that the explosion was caused by a misfired rocket from the Gaza Strip and not an Israeli rocket attack.
There was even intercepted audio of Hamas operatives talking about the rocket being fired from the cemetery behind the hospital by members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group in Gaza.
This should be enough for Trudeau to accept that Israel has not committed a war crime, but when asked about it on Thursday, he tried to play off both sides.
“We are obviously appalled by the attacks on the hospital in Gaza and the destruction of the hospital. Civilian lives must always be protected and international humanitarian law must always be respected,” Trudeau said.
This part is fine, we should all want civilians to be protected and international law respected. We have laws for wars for a reason. The problem is where Trudeau went next.
“We are working closely with allies to find out exactly what happened,” Trudeau said.
Our allies have discovered what happened, he just won’t accept it.
“Everyone agrees that the death of innocent people in a hospital in Gaza should never have happened, but we are taking the necessary time to examine everything carefully and, of course, quickly, before drawing any final conclusions about what happened.” We take “This is extremely serious because people are experiencing this terrible loss of life so intensely,” Trudeau said.
In light of Trudeau’s statements on Thursday and previous statements from him and his ministers, a joint statement was issued by B’nai Birth Canada, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. The three groups called on the Trudeau government to “retract and clarify its previous comments, which can only be interpreted as giving credibility to the Hamas terror group’s false narrative.”
The three groups noted that Hamas is a listed terrorist group under Canadian law, so any statements from the Gaza Strip government they control should be thoroughly vetted before being shared.
Trudeau, like all Canadian leaders, is currently under intense scrutiny over whether he should choose a side in this brutal and bloody conflict. He did the right thing from the start by making it clear that Hamas is a terrorist group, that its attacks on Israel were barbaric, and that Israel has the right to defend itself.
Having done the right thing early on, he shouldn’t look for the first exit he can find when pressured from the other side.