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Trudeau under scrutiny in Gaza war

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes remarks during a pro-Israel rally

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes remarks during a pro-Israel rally

Reuters

As Joe Biden was preparing to head to Israel on Tuesday, Justin Trudeau told reporters he was horrified by the news from Gaza, where an explosion at a hospital that caused civilian fatalities was then believed to have been caused by an Israeli air strike.

“The news that coming out of Gaza is horrific and absolutely unacceptable,” Trudeau told reporters. “International humanitarian and international law needs to be respected in this and in all cases. There are rules around wars and it’s not acceptable.” In French, he said “it’s not legal” to bomb a hospital.


Later Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, tweeted a similar statement.

Both were criticized later for being too quick to comment, after experts anaylzing the evidence said it was likely that a Palestinian rocket, rather than an Israeli airstrike, was to blame.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, speaking at an antisemitism conference, warned against "instantaneously believing false and misleading headlines in publications like the CBC."

Biden, in contrast, said on Twitter that he had “directed [his] national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened.”

On Wednesday, the Conservatives pressed the Liberals to confirm that the explosion was the result of a Palestinian rocket, which the government did not do, and Joly’s tweet — which implied Israel was responsible — was still up, to the consternation of commentators.

Trudeau’s Liberal party is subject to internal tensions as Canadians — and Liberal MPs — with relatives on both sides of the horrible conflict press the government to condemn one side or the other. Trudeau and Joly’s response to the hospital tragedy has angered Israel’s supporters. If they respond with different messages, they will undoubtedly anger Canadians who blame Israel for the nightmare in Gaza.

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