OTTAWA -Canada supports Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday, condemning Palestinian group Hamas for taking hostages during its incursion last weekend.
Trudeau though side-stepped questions about whether Israel’s decision to seal off the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip was justified. Israel on Thursday said there would be no pause of its siege of the enclave until all hostages were freed.
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Wednesday said she was worried about what might happen next in Gaza.
“Israel has the right to defend itself in accordance with international law,” Trudeau told a televised press conference in Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories.
The United Nations World Food Programme said crucial supplies were running dangerously low in Gaza.
Trudeau did not respond directly when asked whether Israel’s blockade conformed with international law.
“We need to continue to work with international communities and allies to try and find a way to protect all civilians through this. But the choices that Hamas has made, make that even more difficult than it would otherwise be,” he said.
Police in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, said they had arrested three men on Thursday after they made threats at the Community Hebrew Academy.
The hate crimes unit is investigating the incident, the force said in a social media post.
Toronto police said late on Wednesday they were aware of online statements about events that may occur on Friday, adding there were no credible threats to Jewish communities.
Police have increased patrols in Jewish cultural centres and synagogues as well as mosques and other places of worship.
In Israel, three Canadian deaths have been confirmed. The number of missing has increased to four from three, and they may be being held hostage, officials told reporters.
The first Canadian military plane evacuating citizens flew 128 people from Tel Aviv to Athens on Thursday and a second plane with 153 people will leave soon, the officials said.
More than 1,600 citizens and permanent residents wanted help to leave the region. Canada is advising against non-essential travel to Lebanon, given tensions on the border with Israel.
Canada will give an initial C$10 million ($7.30 million)in humanitarian assistance to Israel and Gaza and is deploying 15 officials who are trained to help during times of emergencies. They will be based in Tel Aviv, Amman, Athens and other parts of the region. REUTERS
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