OTTAWA (AFP) — The Canadian government on Wednesday blamed Hamas for civilian casualties in Gaza, including 40 at a school bombarded by the Israeli military the previous day saying Hamas provoked the attack.
"The government of Canada has been very clear since the beginning of this crisis that it believes that the Hamas rocketing was responsible for the initial development of this crisis and for the continuing deepening humanitarian tragedy," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Peter Kent told public broadcaster CBC.
Asked about the Israeli bombing of a school in Gaza that killed 40, he said: "Great responsibility rests with Hamas overall for triggering this incident and by their continued terrorist belligerence for prolonging" the crisis.
"Canada continues to fully support Israel's right to defend itself," he added.
Since its election in 2006, Canada's Conservative government has shown ardent support for Israel.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon repeated Ottawa's position that Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket assaults, adding "Hamas is a terrorist group."
Cannon also expressed concern with "the humanitarian issue" and said Ottawa is pressing "for a durable cease-fire."
More than 30 Canadians were hoping to flee the conflict during a lull in fighting, he said.
As well, Canada pledged four million dollars to the United Nations and the Red Cross for humanitarian aid.
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