Gaza Invasion

During Israel’s widely condemned invasion of the Gaza strip in December 2008 and January 2009, Stephen Harper was largely silent. The Canadian representative to the UN Human Rights Council had the following to say in opposition to a motion condemning Israel’s action—particularly against civilians—and calling for urgent humanitarian aid: “the draft text still failed to clearly recognize that rocket fire on Israel had led to the current crisis.”

Said Harper: “We would like to see a ceasefire, but an efficient and durable ceasefire,” Mr. Harper told reporters in Montreal on Friday. “We have asked for the ceasefire to both parties in this conflict. Our position is clear.”

Martin Grinus comments at the UN HRC on January 12, 2009
Stephen Harper comments on January 9, 2009 in Ottawa quoted in the National Post

The UN HRC Resolution was opposed by only one of the 47 nations comprising the Council: Canada. A bilateral ceasefire and the enumeration of hostilities toward civilians were key components of the resolution. In addition to condemning Israel and calling for humanitarian aid, the motion also urged that all parties “refrain from violence against the civilian population” and called for “the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, which to date have resulted in the killing of more than nine hundred and injury to more than four thousand Palestinians, including a large number of women and children, and the end to the launching of crude rockets against Israeli civilians, which have resulted in the loss of four civilian lives and some injuries.”

It has also recently come to light that Israeli Defense Force rules of engagement for Operation Cast Lead did not discourage collateral fire on civilians. According to some soldiers interviewed by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli veterans, soldiers were advised not to hesitate before engaging: “If you're not sure – kill.” In a 110-page report released today, Breaking the Silence describes the following as accepted practices:
“destruction of hundreds of houses and mosques for no military purpose, the firing of phosphorous gas in the direction of populated areas, the killing of innocent victims with small arms, the destruction of private property, and most of all, a permissive atmosphere in the command structure that enabled soldiers to act without moral restrictions.”
It is to Israel, and not to principles of justice, sovereignty, democracy, and empathy, to which Stephen Harper pledged his “unshakable support” in May 2008, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary.

The UN HRC resolution, minutes of the discussion with votes, and its membership at the time
The Breaking the Silence report
Linda McQuaig’s disgust with Harper over support for Israel
Harper pledges his “unshakable support”

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves after speaking at the Canadian Jewish Congress' 90th anniversary plenary assembly in Toronto, May 31, 2009.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves after speaking at the
Canadian Jewish Congress' 90th anniversary plenary assembly in Toronto, May 31, 2009

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