Top Adviser to Canada's Liberals Under Fire for Israel Comments
Retired general Andrew Leslie, one of the Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau's top advisers, has accused Israel of firing "indiscriminately onto Palestinian women and children" during the recent operation in Gaza.
According to The Toronto Sun, Leslie's remarks were made August 19 but only surfaced this week when transcripts of his remarks, including a transcript made by Leslie himself, were provided to the local QMI Agency.
At a roundtable on veterans' issues that Leslie hosted he was asked for his "professional opinion" on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
In the course of his answer, Leslie, said, "Casualties are caused by the Israelis using very heavy weapons systems, firing indiscriminately onto Palestinian women and children."
“The Palestinian people are not the enemy. Hamas, absolutely,” Leslie said, according to the published transcript.
“You’re talking to a guy who has hunted terrorists for quite some time. You gotta kill them, you gotta kill them. Hey, I’ve got no problems with that. But Palestinian women and children who are taking refuge in a UN-designated compounds?”
“Come on. ‘Oh, it was an accident.’ Sorry, doesn’t matter to anyone. Shooting dumb artillery close to children is dumb,” he said.
The Toronto Sun further reported that two ministers in the cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a staunch supporter of Israel who continued to stand up for the Jewish state during the conflict in Gaza, condemned Leslie’s remarks.
Finance Minister Joe Oliver said in a statement those comments "are deeply disturbing."
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called it "an inappropriate remark" and, speaking to reporters, said "it reflects profound misunderstanding of the situation, a skewed perspective on the part of Mr. Leslie."
"Israel takes great precautions to protect civilians while in contrast, Hamas deliberately puts innocent Palestinians in harm's way and has hurled thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians," Oliver said. "Nevertheless, Mr. Leslie places blame on Israel for defending itself."
Leslie told the QMI Agency Tuesday that "the totality of my comments are balanced."