OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is "horrified" by Israeli strikes that killed civilians in Rafah earlier this week, but walked away from reporters when asked what he will do about it. 

"Canada in no way supports the military operations by Israel in Rafah," Trudeau told reporters Tuesday on Parliament Hill.

"Indeed, we have been calling for a ceasefire, including at the (United Nations) since December, and we’ll continue to."

His comment came two days after gruesome images emerged of children injured in airstrikes and fires burning among encampments of displaced people in Rafah.

The city in the Gaza Strip had become a safe haven for more than a million Palestinians fleeing Israeli attacks.

Canada supported Israel's right to defend itself following the brutal Hamas attack last Oct. 7, but Trudeau says Canada urged Israel not to proceed with an offensive in the southern city.

Israel says Rafah has become a Hamas stronghold and is crucial to routing the militant group that killed 1,200 people in Israel last October. It described Sunday's carnage as a mistake.

Humanitarian groups including the Mennonite Central Committee say the area is far too crowded for any safe military operation, pointing to the scenes that occurred Sunday.

"Israel's military operations in Rafah have created a catastrophic humanitarian situation, in line with the repeated predictions and warnings of the humanitarian community in the build up to the offensive," reads a joint statement issued Monday.

Trudeau said he's concerned about the plight of the Palestinians in the territory. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza reports 36,000 people have been killed in the war, including combatants.

"We need to see much more humanitarian aid flow into Gaza, and we need to see all hostages released," Trudeau said.

But when pressed for information on what Canada might do, he walked away from the scrum.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2024