Freeland calls on 'all parties' involved in Gaza violence to protect civilians

Canada’s foreign affairs minister says she is “deeply concerned” about the recent outbreak of violence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, saying there is no excuse for the deaths of civilians, journalists and children.

Prime minister should tell Israel to 'cease violations of international law,' says NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland says 'all parties to the conflict have a responsibility to ensure civilians are protected' - but has not called out either side to assign blame for the violence unfolding along the Gaza Strip/Israel border (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Canada's foreign affairs minister says she is "deeply concerned" about the recent eruption of violence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel and its massive civilian death toll.

"It is inexcusable that civilians, journalists + children have been victims," she said in a tweet.

Chrystia Freeland did not lay any blame for the deaths on either side.

"All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to ensure civilians are protected," she said.

On Monday, the U.S. officially opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, fuelling deadly protests across the border.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 55 Palestinians — including six children — were killed by Israeli forces during mass protests. It was the deadliest day there since the devastating 2014 cross-border war.

The ministry also said 1,204 Palestinians were shot and wounded, leaving 116 in serious or critical condition. It said about 1,200 others suffered other types of injuries —some from exposure to tear gas.

NDP calls for investigation

A statement later issued by Freeland's press secretary, Adam Austen, did mention Israelis and Palestinians, saying the two sides should return to "direct negotiations" to achieve "a comprehensive and lasting peace."

"All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to ensure the protection of civilians, to respect international law, avoid incitement to violence and to limit the use of force," Austen said in his statement.

"We condemn the involvement of Hamas, a listed terrorist organization."

Justin Trudeau says the only way to end the violence is for Israel and Palestine to find a negotiated two-state solution. 1:08

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh issued a statement demanding Canada back an independent investigation of Israel's actions.

"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," Singh said in the statement.

The statement goes on to ask for Canada to "call on the government of Israel to end this occupation."

"Illegal killings, arbitrary and abusive detention, forced displacement, restrictions on movement, the expansion of illegal settlements, collective punishment and institutionalized discrimination have characterized this occupation that has persisted for over half a century," the statement said.

An Israeli border police officer pulls a sign from a Palestinian protester outside the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem Monday. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border, casting a shadow over Israel's festive inauguration of the new U.S. embassy in contested Jerusalem. (Eyal Warshavsky/Associated Press)

In a post to his Facebook page, Conservative MP Peter Kent described the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as a "historic moment" and called out the Trudeau government for not sending Canada's ambassador to Israel to the opening ceremony.

"Ambassador Lyon's absence was a missed opportunity for Canada to support Israel's right to determine the location of its capital," Kent said.

However, a Global Affairs spokesperson said in a statement Monday that Canada was not invited to the ceremony.

"As U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman indicated on Friday, the opening of the U.S. Embassy is a bilateral ceremony between Israel and the United States. As such, Canada did not receive an invitation to attend today's event," Brianne Maxwell said in an email to CBC News.

Kent noted that Canada's former ambassador to Israel, Vivian Bercovici, who was appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper, was invited and did attend the opening ceremony. 

"Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has made clear that a Conservative government will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital," the Conservative MP wrote.

Kent did not remark on the deaths of the protesters.

Repeated requests to the Conservative Party, and Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O'Toole, for comment went unanswered. 

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