Palestinians urge Ottawa to press Israel on Gaza

Delegation says 30 per cent of dead in Gaza are children


OTTAWA – The Palestinian delegation in Ottawa has asked the Harper government to talk Israel out of its land invasion of Gaza.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird instead blamed Hamas for the latest escalation in the area and urged Egypt to broker a new ceasefire.

The Palestinian statement was issued hours after Israel launched its first major offensive into Gaza in five years, following 10 days of airstrikes aimed at stopping the militant group Hamas from firing rockets at Israeli cities.

“For the past 11 days the world has stood by as the Palestinians of Gaza have been subjected to indiscriminate killings and collective punishment,” the statement said.

“We call on the government of Canada to talk Israel back from the brink of this disaster.”

The statement stressed that the Israeli ground offensive will only compound the suffering of Palestinian civilians, children in particular, saying they account for 30 per cent of the 245 people killed so far.

It also laments the deaths of four Palestinian children killed in an Israeli strike on a Gaza beach earlier this week.

“In one of its most heinous acts, Israeli forces murdered four boys aged 9 to 11 playing on the beach in Gaza City this past Wednesday,” it said.

“It takes an incredible act of moral contortion to believe that the Israeli pilot that fired the missile that killed these children, or the government that authorized it, did so in self-defence.”

Baird issued his own statement supporting Israel’s latest military move and reiterating that Hamas is entirely to blame for any casualties.

“These operations could have been avoided if Hamas had not rejected the government of Egypt’s ceasefire proposal — a proposal that was accepted by Israel and welcomed by the Palestinian Authority,” Baird said.

“This proves that Hamas has no interest in peace and bears responsibility for the further tragic loss of life.”

Baird also called on Egypt to resume its unsuccessful efforts to arrange a ceasefire. “Egypt is the best-placed country in the region to help end the current hostilities. It is a historic leader in regional peace efforts.”

The Israeli offensive was continuing today as troops moved further into Gaza, targeting tunnels and other infrastructure in an attempt to degrade the ability of Hamas to launch attacks.

“Canada stands by Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself,” Baird said. “Israel will be forced to continue defending itself as long as Hamas continues its rocket attacks against civilians.”

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Palestinians urge Ottawa to press Israel on Gaza

  1. What has happened to the Jewish conscience?
    By Tom McKay

    Most people watching the violence happening right now in Israel and Palestine can only shake their heads.

    A few people, however, are reacting like they’re watching an NFL game. CNN reporter Diana Magnay was covering the Israeli assault from a vantage point overlooking the Gaza Strip. In the background, Israelis could be heard cheering and clapping as IDF munitions hit Palestinian territory and unleashed their lethal payload. You’d probably have to be a real piece of work to find joy in a bombing campaign unfortunately directed at one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world.

    In Gaza, it would be nearly impossible for even a surgically conducted bombing campaign to avoid killing civilians. Even Washington officials aren’t so sure Israel is doing its best to do that. Two-hundred thirty-five Palestinians have been killed by the ongoing Israeli campaign, including four young boys on a beach. In the past few days, many civilians have died – and all but one of the fatalities has been Palestinian.

    Regardless of your stance on the ongoing conflict, the idea that it’s a big, fun spectacle when so many Palestinians are dying could only be considered grotesque and offensive. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. Posts about “Sderot cinema” have recently shown Israeli citizens apparently viewing the bombings like it was a July 4th fireworks show.

    The image of the Israeli spectators was taken after 9 p.m. local time on Wednesday, [reporter Allan Sorensen] said, about the same time that what was intended to be a “precision strike” from Israel’s military killed at least eight of their Palestinian neighbors, seated in similar plastic chairs at a beachside cafe in Gaza, waiting to watch the World Cup semifinal between Argentina and the Netherlands.

    This has happened before. In 2009 during Operation Cast Lead, in which around 1,400 Palestinians died, news reports captured similar scenes of Israelis cheering on the assault.

    Sorensen says that growing right-wing extremism among Israelis is partially responsible for the “vitriolic” response he later received for posting the above photo, calling “extreme incitement to violence from very right-wing Israeli groups unprecedented” in the ongoing crisis. Some far-right Jewish groups have even thrown rallies calling for the extermination of Palestinians.

    Al Jazeera America’s Melissa Etehad writes that even some social media posts by Israeli leaders appear to be inciting right-wing extremists in the nation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for “vengeance” after the murder of three Israeli students triggered the current crisis. Another declared the “entire Palestinian people as the enemy,” receiving over 5,000 likes. Meanwhile, so-called “price tag” attacks carried out by radical Israelis living in illegal settlements in retribution for perceived or actual Palestinian affronts have been a growing problem.

    Ultimately these terrible displays of inhumanity are originating from a small but vocal minority of Israelis. And without a doubt some Palestinians cheer on horrible atrocities as well — in fact, the escalating war will probably only boost Hamas’ popularity as it inspires a reactionary backlash against Israel. But pretty much everyone should know better than to cheerlead the bombings, including those with luxury of being able to leisurely view the violence from afar.

    Tom McKay is a Live News columnist for PolicyMic, where he writes about politics, media, and technology.

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