OTTAWA: Four hundred and eighty academics, lawyers, community activists and others criticised Canada’s government for taking a decisively pro-Israel position amid the current conflict in the Gaza Strip, saying it “discredits Canada.”
In an open letter published in the daily Globe and Mail, they said they “are profoundly perturbed by the unbalanced and partisan position adopted by the Canadian government and federal political parties regarding the current violence in Gaza.”
They noted that official statements have “focused exclusively on denouncing Hamas’ rocket strikes and uncritically proclaiming Israel’s right to self-defence.”
And they said this “discredits Canada” as well as “subverts Canada’s own official foreign policy goal of achieving a ‘comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement’ between Israel and Palestine.”
The group acknowledged that “Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket firings are illegal under international law” but added that “Israel is still bound by basic international humanitarian law principles protecting civilians during times of war and prohibiting collective punishment.”
Adam Hodge, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said in response to the criticisms that “Canada mourns the death and suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza.
“However, responsibility rests solely with Hamas and its allies, who launched and continue to feed this crisis,” he added.
“We stand by Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself. Israel will be forced to continue defending itself as long as Hamas continues its rocket attacks against civilians.”AFP