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Trudeau warns Israel of ‘catastrophic’ consequences of pending Rafah offensive

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says an Israeli military offensive into the densely populated area where some 1.5 million Palestinians have taken refuge in the Gaza Strip would be “catastrophic.”

He says in a joint statement with the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand that the impact of an incursion into Rafah would be “devastating” and there is “simply nowhere else for civilians to go.”

The three say Israel should not go down this path and it must listen to its friends and the international community.

They are also calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and note an International Court of Justice ruling last month that said Israel must protect civilians and ensure the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance.

Trudeau and his counterparts say a sustainable ceasefire is necessary and cannot be one-sided, reiterating their condemnation of Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the conflict.

The statement follows similar warnings from the United States and United Nation, and marks Canada’s strongest language yet on Israel’s conduct in the region.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2024.