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‘Not acceptable’: Trudeau reacts after bombs hit hospital in Gaza

Israeli with ties to Canada who had been missing is now confirmed dead as conflict continues
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the bombing of a hospital in Gaza is illegal, calling the situation “absolutely unacceptable.” Trudeau speaks with reporters as he makes his way to Question Period, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the bombing of a hospital in Gaza is not legal and is calling the situation “absolutely unacceptable.”

Trudeau was responding to unfolding reports by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry that an Israeli airstrike hit a hospital in Gaza City, killing hundreds of Palestinians, including people using the hospital as shelter.

A spokesman for the Israeli military said it was still collecting details on the incident, saying he did not know whether the airstrike came from Israel.

Trudeau said in French, speaking to reporters on his way into the House of Commons, that “it’s not legal” to bomb a hospital.

Trudeau has repeatedly said that wars have international rules that must be followed, and says Canada is working with allies to get a humanitarian corridor established so supplies can be brought into Gaza.

Aid organizations are warning that the territory is near collapse, and Trudeau told reporters that hitting a hospital is “not acceptable.”

Earlier in the day, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said that an Israeli with ties to Canada who had been declared missing is now confirmed dead, amid the continued fallout from Hamas’s recent surprise attacks on Israel.

On her way into the Liberals’ weekly cabinet meeting, Joly offered condolences to the family of Tiferet Lapidot.

She said the woman was one of three Canadians reported missing after Hamas attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people and setting off a war that has left more than 4,000 dead on both sides.

Joly said that during her recent trip to Israel, she met with Lapidot’s Canadian father in Tel Aviv, as well as Lapidot’s uncle, who described her as a “brilliant, beautiful young woman.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs described Lapidot as an Israeli woman with Canadian parents, saying in a statement that her family asked that news of her death be shared with media.

Including Lapidot, Joly said at least six Canadians were killed when Hamas crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7 and launched an attack against civilians. Two Canadians remain missing.

Trudeau said Monday that it is possible that Canadians who are missing could be among the 199 hostages taken by Hamas.

But Global Affairs Canada has warned against speculation and declined to provide any details, saying that could further endanger hostages.

Canada is still trying to get citizens and permanent residents in Israel and both Palestinian territories out of the region, as Israel prepares itself for a ground invasion of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Global Affairs Canada said late Monday that it has heard from nearly 300 Canadians living in the West Bank and nearly 380 living in Gaza “seeking assistance.”

While two more flights arranged by the Canadian military are set to depart from Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Canadians inside Gaza remain trapped as international aid agencies warn of a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Joly said that Gaza is one of the worst places “to live on earth right now.”

“That’s why we’re really working extremely hard to make sure there is a humanitarian corridor.”

Israel began blocking access to food, water, electricity and other supplies into Gaza, the 365-square-kilometre coastal strip of land next to Israel that is governed by Hamas, following the group’s Oct. 7 attacks.

Canada has designated Hamas as a terrorist entity for more than 20 years.

Aid organizations are warning that Gaza is close to complete collapse as Israel’s military continues bombing it, with Gaza’s hospitals running out of supplies.

More than a million people in the north were also ordered by the Israel Defense Forces to leave their homes last week ahead of an expected ground invasion.

The World Health Organization has characterized that evacuation order as a “death sentence” for hospital patients. It is also urging parties to agree to let staff and life-saving supplies into the region.

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said Tuesday that international aid organizations can only operate “in an environment of trust.”

“They have to make sure that for them to go into Gaza, not only to bring in supplies but to actually help people with medical needs and so on, they have to be 100 per cent sure that their workers will be protected.”

Hussen said that while he’s been informed that several trucks have been allowed to enter from Gaza’s border with Egypt, that is not enough.

He said Canada is seized with the issue.

Canada has already pledged to send $10 million in aid to the Red Cross and various United Nations agencies.

In his address to Parliament on Monday, Trudeau also called it “imperative” that those in Gaza gain access to humanitarian supplies.

Finding a way to bring resources into Gaza is not the only problem at hand. Many, including at least 100 Canadians, are also looking for a way out.

Their hopes were dashed over the weekend as a plan to allow foreign nations to leave through the border with Egypt fell through.

Joly told reporters that two more flights arranged by the Canadian military are departing Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

So far, 1,300 Canadians have been airlifted out of Israel, and 21 others living in the West Bank left via bus into neighboring Jordan.

For Canadians living in Lebanon, Joly said it is time to get out while commercial flights are still available.

“It is now time to leave.”

Her call comes as Hezbollah fighters have begun clashing with the Israeli military across their shared border, raising concerns that the attacks by Hamas could expand into a larger regional conflict.

READ ALSO: B.C. political parties denounce Hamas in legislature