As Israel’s ambassador to Canada said recently, the Canadian government should finally clarify its position on South Africa’s baseless allegation that Israel committed genocide during its air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Since October 8, the day after Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 civilians and soldiers in a murderous rampage in southern Israel, the Israeli armed forces have been pummelling Gaza in an unrelenting attempt to obliterate Hamas’ military capabilities, remove its venal leadership from power once and for all, and free the hostages abducted on October 7.
Two hundred and twenty four Israeli soldiers have fallen so far in this difficult campaign of urban warfare and house-to-house combat. On the other side of the ledger, Israel claims to have killed some 9,000 Hamas combatants emerging and reemerging from tunnels and the ruins of bombed-out buildings.
Regrettably, the death toll for Palestinian civilians has been far higher. The reason is clear. Hamas cynically attacks Israeli troops from civilian facilities such as schools, mosques, apartment buildings and even hospitals.
According to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, nearly 26,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed, sparking a regional and international outcry. Yet, as Israel has repeatedly pointed out, Israeli forces have not deliberately targeted civilians, who have been caught in the crossfire as Hamas human shields. Its targets have been Hamas combatants, period.
Contrary to the 1948 Geneva Convention, Israel has not killed Palestinians on the basis of their nationality, ethnicity or religion. Which means that Israel is not guilty of genocide.
South Africa, which maintains friendly relations with Hamas, thinks otherwise, having recently asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to brand Israel as a perpetrator of genocide.
Israel has rightly dismissed South Africa’s meritless accusation, as have Britain and France. And Germany has applied to the court as an intervenor on Israel’s behalf.
Canada, however, has sent mixed signals regarding the merit of South Africa’s case against Israel.
In a recent statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Our support for the ICJ and its processes does not mean that we accept the premise of the case brought forward by South Africa, and we are watching carefully as all the steps unfold.”
He added that Canada would respect whatever ruling the ICJ hands down, but he would not discuss what Canada’s final response would be.
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly made similar comments.
In light of their ambiguous remarks, Canada’s policy appears vague and open to different interpretations.
Supporters of Israel’s just war in Gaza may conclude that Canada sides with Israel, but Palestinians and their backers may well reach the opposite conclusion.
This ambiguity serves no real purpose, will ultimately please no one, and may open Canada to derision.
Some even think that Trudeau is toying with this issue for crass political purposes at a time when his popularity and that of the Liberal Party are waning in the court of public opinion.
At a press conference last week, Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party, claimed that Trudeau is trying to appeal to all sides so as to remain in power.
Yesterday, Poilievre described Trudeau’s position as “incomprehensible,” accusing him and Joly of formulating a policy no one can understand. “It’s time for the prime minister to grow a backbone, stop trying to divide Canadians based on religion and ethnicity and take a principled stand in favor of humanity and against the real propagators of genocide, who are the Hamas terrorists,” he said.
He is absolutely right.
Trudeau should not be attempting to walk such a fine line, as Israel’s ambassador noted.
“What we are looking for is to say out loud, clearly, there is no genocide,” said Iddo Moed. “The South African claim has not legal or factual basis. It’s ridiculous … What we expect (from Canada) is a clear message that says there is no genocide.”
It is a reasonable request considering the fact that Israel most certainly has not committed genocide in Gaza.
Trudeau and Joly should stop playing word games, drop their wait-and-see policy, and state in no uncertain terms that South Africa’s politically-inspired and shameless accusation against Israel is patently false and totally worthless.