Canada continues to push for an international probe into recent violence in Gaza. The calls come even as Canada opposed a UN Human Rights Council vote on Friday to establish an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during protests along the Israeli-Gaza border.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told the House of Commons on Tuesday that Ottawa believes the UN resolution, which was mostly pushed by Pakistan and other Muslim countries, was biased against Israel.
But she told MPs that Canada is talking to other ”international partners” about setting up a neutral inquiry to shed light on Israel’s use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters, as well as the shooting of Canadian-Palestinian doctor Tarek Loubani.
Ms. Freeland said any international inquiry should also investigate Israel’s claims that the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza had intentionally provoked the violence, an accusation Hamas denies.
“It is imperative that we establish the facts of what happened in Gaza, especially given the shooting of Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani,” Ms. Freeland said. “That is why Canada is calling for an independent investigation to ascertain how the actions of all parties concerned contributed to these events, including reported incitement by Hamas.”
Mr. Trudeau told reporters that he wants to know why Dr. Loubani, who was field testing 3-D printer tourniquets, was shot in both legs by a sniper on May 14 during the protests. Dr. Loubani said he was dressed in a green surgeon’s outfit and was standing 25 metres away from the protests with some paramedics wearing orange vests when he was shot.
“I was very clear with Prime Minister Netanyahu that any time a Canadian citizen would be shot by a foreign military sniper, we’d have some very serious questions. So we expect to get some good answers,” Mr. Trudeau said of a conversation he had last week with the Israeli leader.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told the Commons that Mr. Trudeau had “unilaterally blamed Israel” when he put out a statement last week, criticizing Israeli forces for “inexcusable” use of live ammunition without mentioning Hamas.
Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Nimrod Barkan, said in an interview that his country will not cooperate with an international inquiry and that Israel’s military is conducting its own investigation that will also look into the shooting of Dr. Loubani, who practices emergency medicine in London, Ont., and teaches at the University of Western Ontario.
“Israel does not believe that any outside investigation is either merited or is capable of reaching to the bottom of what has happened,” Mr. Barkan said. “This is why Israel has established an investigative mechanism conducted by the military and anyone who has any complaint is welcome to convey all the details to this mechanism.”
On Friday, Israel railed against the Human Rights Council vote, charging that the council members have a permanent anti-Israel bias. The council, chosen by the General Assembly, includes Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and China – all countries known for widespread human rights abuses.
The United States and Australia voted against the UN resolution while 29 members voted in favour and another 14 countries, including Britain, Germany and Japan, abstained.
Canada, which currently does not sit on the forum and could not vote, voiced its opposition on Friday through Canadian representative Rosemary McCarney.
“Our government will not support one-sided positions that we feel single out Israel,” Ms. Freeland told reporters.
NDP Foreign Affairs critic Hélène Laverdière accused the Trudeau government of “speaking from both sides of its mouth” in demanding an independent probe while condemning the UN move to investigate Israel.
The UN Human Rights Council was called into special session after one of the bloodiest days in recent years when 60 protesters were killed by Israeli gunfire and more than 2,700 were injured. Hamas said 50 of the 60 people killed on May 14 were members of the militant group.
With files from Reuters