A Canadian-Palestinian doctor, who was wounded by an Israeli sniper, says he will “fully co-operate” with an Israeli military investigation into the shooting that occurred on May 14 during Palestinian protests along the Israeli-Gaza border.
Tarek Loubani told The Globe and Mail Wednesday that he has serious doubts about the impartiality of Israel‘s military investigating actions taken by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) but he nonetheless believes it would be irresponsible to boycott the probe.
“In medicine we understand that conflicts of interest are a surefire way to get a biased conclusion and I can imagine no greater conflict of interest than a party investigating itself for an accusation that is being made,” he said in a telephone interview from London, where he is attending an international conference. “Even though I think the conclusion will not be credible … still, I think it is important to show good faith and to participate in these investigative processes even when they are biased.”
Dr. Loubani said he is working with the Canadian government on the details of his interview with Israeli military officials. Israel had asked Canada to officially participate in the probe but the government declined to do so.
Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Nimrod Barkan, said Israel had given Canada its word that the IDF inquiry would be conducted without bias.
“Israel has assured Canada and proposed a mechanism that will look specifically into the Loubani case but also other cases,” he said. “We believe if Canada co-operates with this mechanism, which as a friend of Israel it should trust, then it will be satisfied.”
Dr. Loubani, who was field-testing 3-D printer tourniquets, was shot in both legs by a sniper during the protests. He 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.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday that “I was very clear with Prime Minister [Benjamin] 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.”
Although Canada is pushing for an international and independent probe into the recent violence in Gaza, Dr. Loubani called this approach unproductive. Resources should be harnessed to improve the lives of the 1.9 million Palestinians in poverty-ridden Gaza, he said.
“For the international community to waste its political capital doing an investigation when we already have an abundance of investigations showing various kinds of problematic behaviour by the Israelis is a waste of time,” he said. “Instead, the Canadian government and other governments should call for concrete solutions that improve the lives of Palestinians.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Wednesday 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 Dr. Loubani.
“We consider that an independent investigation at an international level remains necessary. Canada will continue to work with our international partners in order to set that up,” she said.
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.
In medicine we understand that conflicts of interest are a surefire way to get a biased conclusion and I can imagine no greater conflict of interest than a party investigating itself for an accusation that is being made.— Tarek Loubani, a Canadian-Palestinian doctor wounded by an Israeli sniper on May 14 during Palestinian protests along the Israeli-Gaza border, on an Israeli military investigation into the shooting
Ambassador Barkan said his country will not co-operate with an international inquiry and said Israel has a right to defend its borders.
“The real problem is the behaviour and incitement by Hamas. This should be looked at by the international community,” he said.
Dr. Loubani, who practices emergency medicine in London, Ont., and teaches at the University of Western Ontario, said he is recovering from his wounds and will return to Canada on Saturday.
“I am recovering as well as can be. My thoughts are with everyone else who doesn’t get the luxury of the best medical care possible,” he said.
On Friday, Canada opposed a UN Human Rights Council vote to establish an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border. Ms. Freeland said the council membership is biased against Israel.
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.
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.
As protests die down on the Israel-Gaza border where dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire this week, Reuters' Emily Wither speaks to some of the two million people facing crippling unemployment and blockade in the narrow strip.