Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday the killing “of women, of children, of babies” in the Israel-Hamas war must stop, sparking a strong rebuke from Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The world is watching, on TV, on social media, we are hearing the testimonies of doctors, family members, survivors, kids who have lost their parents,” Trudeau said at an event in British Columbia province.
“The world is witnessing this killing of women, of children, of babies. This has to stop.”
Netanyahu hit back at Trudeau’s criticism.
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“It is not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust,” Netanyahu posted on X.
“While Israel is doing everything to keep civilians out of harm’s way, Hamas is doing everything to keep them in harm’s way.”
Netanyahu said it was Hamas, not Israel, that should be held accountable.
“The forces of civilization must back Israel in defeating Hamas barbarism,” he said.
Canada and other Western nations have backed Israel’s right to defend itself after Hamas’s brutal October 7 attacks that killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, with an estimated 240 others taken hostage.
Israel’s ensuing bombardment and ground offensive have, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, killed 11,320 people, including thousands of children.
Trudeau said Hamas “needs to stop using Palestinians as human shields” and that they “need to release all the hostages immediately and unconditionally”.
Referring to Gaza’s main hospital, which has in recent days become one of the focal points of the Israel-Hamas war, he said: “The human tragedy that is unfolding in Gaza is heart-wrenching, especially the suffering we see in and around the Al-Shifa hospital.”
Israeli forces raided Gaza’s largest hospital early Wednesday, targeting what they say is a Hamas command centre in tunnels beneath thousands of patients and civilians seeking refuge from intense combat.
Trudeau, who spoke before the raid, urged the government of Israel to “exercise maximum restraint”.
Trudeau paid tribute to Canadian-Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver, 74, whose killing in the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7 was confirmed on Tuesday.
She was initially thought to be held hostage by Hamas.
A feminist activist advocating for peace with the Palestinians, Silver had set up aid programs for Gaza residents and helped them obtain medical treatment in Israel.
“Vivian dedicated her life to peace and the bright light was extinguished on October 7,” Trudeau said.