Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had strong words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late on Tuesday via social media, criticizing the Canadian leader for his take on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
"The human tragedy that is unfolding in Gaza is heart-wrenching, especially the suffering we see in and around the Al Shifa hospital," Trudeau said at a Tuesday news conference.
The hospital has become a focal point of Israel's military campaign to defeat Hamas, the terrorist organization in control of the Gaza Strip. According to Israel, Hamas maintains an operational headquarters underneath the hospital, an allegation which has been supported by U.S. intelligence. Hamas and staff at the hospital have denied the claim.
"I have been clear that the price of justice cannot be the continued suffering of all Palestinian civilians. Even wars have rules," said Trudeau on Tuesday. He said that Israel must utilize "maximum restraint" in its operations.
"It is not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust," tweeted Netanyahu. "While Israel is doing everything to keep civilians out of harm's way, Hamas is doing everything to keep them in harm's way," he continued.
Netanyahu added: "The forces of civilization must back Israel in defeating Hamas barbarism."
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid also went on offence against Trudeau. "Responsibility for this terrible situation rests with Hamas-ISIS," he said.
"If Canada ever found itself under a sustained and brutal attack like the one we face now, you would find Israel by your side. We expect the same support," Lapid continued.
Former Liberal MP Michael Levitt, now the president and CEO of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies, denounced Trudeau's remarks, calling the "reckless accusations" deeply disconcerting.
"The scathing remarks also landed here at home, where Jews like me, reeling from weeks of surging antisemitism, got the message loud and clear, and will worry that they have the potential to further fan the flames of Jew-hatred that we are facing," said Levitt.
With his poll numbers in steep decline, Trudeau may be trying to take a harder line on Israel to appease left-leaning voters. On Tuesday night, the prime minister was chased out of a Vancouver restaurant by anti-Israel protesters shouting that he has blood on his hands.
According to the National Post, "the Canadian government has faced increased pressure domestically from refugee settlement agencies, opposition members and municipal politicians to call for a ceasefire."
Trudeau said his government has been calling for a "sustained humanitarian pause" for weeks, but stopped short of advocating for a full ceasefire. Israeli officials have said there will be no ceasefire without the return of the approximately 240 hostages that are currently held by Hamas and other groups in Gaza.