Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Israel to use “maximum restraint” to protect civilian life in the brutal war it is waging on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Israel declared war against Hamas after its militants launched a surprise attack on Oct. 7 — killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostage, according to Israeli officials.
Health officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza say weeks of retaliatory airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip have now killed more than 11,200 people.
“The price of justice cannot be the continued suffering of all Palestinian civilians,” Trudeau, who previously stated Israel has the right to defend itself after the Oct. 7 attack, said on Tuesday. “I urge the government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint.”
He said the violence must urgently stop so Palestinians can get access to life-saving medical services, food, fuel and water; so hostages can be released; and so Canadians and other foreign nationals can escape.
So far, Trudeau said Tuesday, more than 350 people with connections to Canada have been able to enter Egypt via the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza — the only exit point available to those in Gaza due to a blockade by Israel that has been enforced since 2005.
“For weeks, we’ve been calling now for a sustained humanitarian pause,” Trudeau said. “We hope that a sustained pause in the violence can help create the conditions for lasting peace.”
Trudeau also repeated Israel’s claim that Hamas uses civilians as human shields.
“Hamas needs to stop using Palestinians as human shields…. They need to release all hostages immediately and unconditionally,” he said.
“Hamas has said that they would commit horrors like Oct. 7 over and over again — the same violent attack that killed so many civilians, including Vivian Silver,” Trudeau added, referring to a Winnipeg-born peace activist who was confirmed dead on Monday.
Trudeau said he had previously met with her children and called Silver a “bright light” that was extinguished.
“Her courage, commitment and compassion exemplifies what it means to be a Canadian, what it means to be engaged in the world in positive ways,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a Tuesday social media post directed at Trudeau, blamed Hamas for putting civilians in harm’s way.
“It is Hamas not Israel that should be held accountable for committing a double war crime — targeting civilians while hiding behind civilians,” Netanyahu said on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.