Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ceasefire needed in Israeli-Palestinian conflict to avoid loss of more civilians: PM

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to stop the violence that has been escalating in the region.

He says the violence needs to stop and Canada will work with the international community to de-escalate the situation “so that there is no more loss of civilian life.”

At a news conference in Ottawa today, the prime minister says that his heart goes out to Israelis and Palestinians as they live through the violence surrounding them.

Hundreds have died in recent days after Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, launched rockets and Israel unleashed airstrikes.

Israel has vowed to press on with its operations, and the United States signalled it would not pressure the two sides for a ceasefire even as President Joe Biden said he supported one.

The escalation was triggered by days of clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, which is built on a hilltop site sacred to Jews in the holy city.

That followed tensions fuelled by the planned eviction of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem where Israeli settlers have waged a lengthy legal battle to take over properties.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says the Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 213 Palestinians, including 61 children, and wounded about 1,500 Palestinians.

Israel says 12 people have died, including two children, and at least 300 have been wounded.

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