Israel’s ambassador to Canada says Israeli officials hope to question a Canadian doctor wounded in recent clashes near the border with Gaza within the next few days, and is hoping for Ottawa’s cooperation in the matter.
In an interview on this weekend’s edition of The West Block, Nimrod Barkan explained that his government has full confidence in the impartiality of its internal probe into the recent use of deadly force against Palestinian protesters along the Israeli-Gaza border.
“There will be an independent investigation and it will be carried out by the Israeli judicial system,” Barkan said.
WATCH: Chrystia Freeland calls for an independent investigation into Gaza
That system, like Canada’s own, is “free, independent and not under the authority of the government,” he added.
Sixty protesters were killed in a single, bloody day earlier this month, and over 2,700 more were injured. Canadian-Palestinian doctor Tarek Loubani was among those shot by Israeli defence forces, suffering bullet wounds in both legs while reportedly standing 25 metres away from the protests dressed in a surgeon’s outfit.
Loubani told The Globe and Mail last week that he will cooperate with Israel’s inquiry, but doubts it will be impartial.
“We would like to ask the Canadian government to cooperate with us in the questioning of Dr. Loubani,” Barkan said this weekend. “We propose to do it this week, and hopefully that will take place.”
Israel will look into every complaint linked to the violence separately, he added, and draw conclusions in each individual case regarding inappropriate use of force.
“There has been instances in the past in which soldiers and officers were put on trial because the judge advocate general of the military has concluded that they overstepped their instructions. So that can happen here too, there’s no question about it.”
The Canadian government has been calling for an independent, international inquiry into the clashes, something that Barkan said his government “disagrees” with. Israel says it will not cooperate with any such probe.
Canada has simultaneously opposed a recent UN Human Rights Council vote to establish an investigation. While that may seem like a contradiction, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada believes that because the UN effort is being spearheaded by Pakistan and other Muslim-majority countries, it would be biased against Israel.
WATCH: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemns killings in Gaza
Freeland also said any international inquiry should be tasked with examining Israel’s claims that Hamas, which is recognized as a terror entity by Canada, intentionally provoked the violence. Hamas has denied those accusations, saying the protesters killed (50 of whom have been confirmed as members of Hamas) were unarmed and posed no immediate threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers when they were killed.
Asked if Canada’s support for an international probe might be a way to boost its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council without firmly siding against Israel, Barkan offered no opinion.
“This question, you should ask the Canadian government. Not the Israeli government.”
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