MPs terrified by ‘close’ Sderot gunfire

By Dana Gloger, July 11, 2008
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Conservative MPs have described their horror at experiencing a gunfire exchange in Sderot this week.

The politicians were close to the shoot-out between Israeli soldiers and snipers across the border when they visited the town on Wednesday as part of a five-day trip organised by Conservative Friends of Israel.

Peterborough MP and shadow communities and local government minister Stewart Jackson said: “We couldn’t see the gunfire, but could hear that it was close by. Not being able to see it actually made it more frightening.”

The exchange had illustrated the “effects on quality of life that people in the south of Israel suffer on a daily basis.

“It shows that it is not a sustainable position for these areas to be constantly subject to rocket attacks and that Israel has the right to take appropriate actions to defend its citizens.”

Urging Britons to visit Israel, Mr Jackson argued: “It’s very important to show their support for the only democracy in the area. I feel we have a duty and obligation to support Israel. This is the first time I’ve been and I will be back.”

Another on the mission was Greg Hands, MP for Hammersmith and Fulham.

Hearing the shooting was “frightening”, he said. “The gunfire was pretty close and it very much brought home how the violence in the area is ongoing and what people go through every day. 

“Until I was there, I didn’t appreciate how serious the problem was and how much normal civilians, including children, are on the front-line.”

Mr Hands was making his first visit to Israel, although his mother was born in Mandate Palestine in 1931 as his grandfather was serving on an RAF base there.

Others on the trip were Hertsmere MP and shadow work and pensions minister James Clappison and CFI’s Robert Halfon and Nathalie Tamam.

    Last updated: 9:43am, July 10 2008