Why this MP thinks Israel 'needs Kassam attacks'

By Dana Gloger, May 1, 2008

An MP who last month came under Kassam rocket fire has said he believes the Israeli government needs such attacks on its citizens in order to justify its “ruthless” retaliation on Palestinian territories.

Tom Levitt, Labour MP for High Peak, was on a fact-finding mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories, organised by Caabu, the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, when a rocket landed around 50 metres away from him and three other MPs.

The incident happened as Mr Levitt, Brian Iddon, Labour MP for Bolton South East, Lib-Dem MP for Brent East Sarah Teather and Swindon South Labour MP Anne Snelgrove, who is also a member of Labour Friends of Israel, were leaving Gaza.

While going through the Erez crossing, they heard the rocket, fired from a Palestinian village towards Israel.

“The experience has given me some idea of how people feel when they come under rocket attack.

“I now know the moment of horror when you hear that sound and the emotion that that brings,” Mr Levitt said. “But there is a great deal of difference between the pathetic and amateur way in which certain individuals lob Kassams over the border into Israel, and the ruthless disregard for human life in how Israel retaliates.

“I got the impression that Israel needs these mortar bombs to fall on it, in order to be able to retaliate.”

He said that if Israel spent “a fraction of the money” currently being spent on the border crossing, on humanitarian issues instead, “there would not be the level of conflict that there is now”.

A spokesperson for the Israel Embassy in London said: “It is unfortunate that members of Parliament engage in vilifying Israel instead of persuading the Palestinians to cease launching Kassam rockets at Israeli civilians, one of which even almost hit them during their visit to Israel.”

Last updated: 5:04pm, May 7 2008