OTTAWA — About 300 university academics from around the country have signed an open letter calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep his word and ensure there is an independent investigation into the Israeli army’s use of force against Palestinians in Gaza.
Two Liberal MPs — Robert-Falcon Ouellette and Marwan Tabbara — hand-delivered the letter to Trudeau on Wednesday. It bears a multitude of signatures from Canadian university professors and denounces the violence at the border between Israel and Gaza.
The letter says that since protests began at the border on March 30, Israeli snipers have killed 119 people and wounded thousands more.
“How many Palestinians need to die or be maimed for life before we wake up and take action against what is now being condemned by a number of international aid and human rights organizations as blatant violations of international law constituting war crimes?” the letter asks.
The signatories urge the prime minister to stand by statements he made in May, when he called for an independent investigation to examine what happened at the border, including any incitement, violence and excessive use of force.
On May 14, a Canadian doctor tending to wounded Palestinians at the border was shot by an Israeli sniper — an incident Trudeau called appalling.
“We are appalled that Dr. Tarek Loubani, a Canadian citizen, is among the wounded — along with so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children,” read Trudeau’s statement on May 16.
“We are doing everything we can to assist Dr. Loubani and his family,” Trudeau’s statement continued, “and to determine how a Canadian citizen came to be injured. We are engaging with Israeli officials to get to the bottom of these events.”
The open letter to Trudeau was written by Hani Faris, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, as well as Atif Kubursi, an economics professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.
“In your statement of May 16,” the letter concludes, “Mr. Prime Minister, you described the ‘use of excessive force and live ammunition [as] inexcusable’ and called for ‘an immediate independent investigation.’ We urge you, Mr. Prime Minister, to stand by your statement.”