May 14, 2018 7:19 pm

Jagmeet Singh harshly criticizes Liberals’ silence on deadly protests amid U.S. embassy change

WATCH: The Israel Defense Forces said on social media Monday that it had launched a targeted air strike on a Hamas training camp in the Gaza strip, in response to what it said was terrorist activity along the perimeter fence where protests were taking place.


Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, tweeted Monday afternoon that he condemns the recent shooting of Palestinian protesters in Gaza by the Israeli Defence Forces, which killed at least 55 and injured almost 2,000.

In his tweet, Singh linked to a longer message posted to the NDP’s official website, which not only condemns the killings but urges the Liberal government to take a public stance against violations of international human rights.

WATCH: Injured Gaza protester stretchered away ahead of U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem

“The use of live ammunition against protesters and resulting deaths are clear violations of international law and human rights,” Singh said in the statement.

“Our government has been shamefully silent on recent developments in Gaza, and the prime minister should condemn the violence, call on Israel to cease violations of international law and support an independent investigation into these deaths.”

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READ MORE: At least 43 Palestinian protesters killed along Gaza border as U.S. opens embassy in Jerusalem

The protests aligned with a ceremony set to take place Monday, commemorating the U.S. embassy officially moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which added another layer to already heightened tensions related to the Israel-Palestinian conflict ever since U.S. President Donald Trump made the announcement this past December.

There had been warnings issued late last week that protests were planned by Palestinian groups to align with the embassy ceremony, to which the Trump administration sent a high-powered delegation.

WATCH: Gunfire from Israeli troops kills 18 Gaza protesters

At the time of the announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a neutral stance, refusing to take an official position on the decision. Trudeau said this past January that Canada’s abstention from a UN vote on Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was about staying above “political games” aimed at isolating Israel.

“This idea of using votes in the United Nations to isolate or condemn Israel… is not productive in international relations. And Canada avoids taking sides in that.”

He added that Canada’s embassy will be staying in Tel Aviv, regardless of the move made by the U.S.

WATCH: Israel boosts security at U.S. embassy in Jerusalem ahead of opening

“I have always been very clear: our embassy will stay in Tel Aviv. We do not believe that actions like this (Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem) are useful.”

The NDP’s post went on to say that Monday’s protests were in response to Trump’s decision to move the embassy and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and criticized the Liberal party for declining to take a position on that announcement.

READ MORE: Trump and team praise Jerusalem embassy opening as clashes along border turn deadly

“The decision by the U.S. government to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is reckless and flies in the face of international law, not least since East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory,” said Hélène Laverdière, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic.

“All those responsible for the outrageous killings in Gaza today must be held to account. The Canadian government must call on the government of Israel to respect international law, condemn illegal settlements and finally [to] stand up for the rights of Palestinians as well as the rights of Israelis.”

READ MORE: U.S. moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem next week. Experts call move ‘a bad deal’

Global News reached out to the prime minister’s office for comment and received the following statement from Adam Austen, a spokesperson for Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“Canada is deeply concerned by the recent violence in the Gaza Strip. We are saddened by the deaths and injuries that occurred today and have occurred over the past several weeks. It is appalling and inexcusable that civilians, members of the media and children have been among the victims,” read the statement.

Freeland’s spokesperson also stated that all parties to the conflict have a responsibility to ensure the protection of their citizens, to respect international law, and to limit the use of force.

“We condemn the involvement of Hamas, a listed terrorist organization. We call for a de-escalation of tensions and a return to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians which is the only means to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace,” he said.

-With a file from the Canadian Press. 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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