Canadian PM urges Israel to change its approach after raid, clashes

Ottawa (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday criticised the Israeli government’s “inflamed rhetoric” and urged it to change its approach to the Palestinians amid an upsurge in violence.

Israeli police entered Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, early on Wednesday to try to clear groups it said were barricaded inside, leading to clashes with worshippers and triggering an exchange of crossborder fire with Gaza.

“We deplore what’s going on right now in Israel,” Trudeau told reporters in Alliston, Ontario. He also condemned the rocket attacks by Palestinian militants from Gaza.

“We’re extremely concerned with the inflamed rhetoric coming out of the Israeli government, we’re concerned about the judicial reforms … we’re concerned by the violence around the al-Aqsa mosque,” Trudeau said.

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has called for a harsh response to the rocket attacks from Gaza, tweeting: “Hamas rockets require more than blasting dunes and empty sites. It’s time to rip heads off in Gaza.”

The raid at the al-Aqsa mosque compound has drawn a sharp reaction from Arab countries and the Arab League, but Trudeau’s comments are among the first to come from Israel’s traditional Western allies on Wednesday’s violence.

“We need to see the Israeli government shifting in its approach, and Canada is saying that as a dear and close and steadfast friend to Israel, we are deeply concerned around the direction that the Israeli government has been taking,” he said.

“We absolutely, unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks from militants in Gaza. We need to see a de-escalation of violence,” Trudeau added.