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Deaths in Gaza are an ‘outrage’ says Jeremy Corbyn as he backs review of arms sales to Israel

Labour leader says Western powers should 'follow lead' of Israeli peace and justice campaigners who are demanding an end to 'abuses of human and political rights' of Palestinians

    A wounded Palestinian man is rushed to an ambulance at the border fence with Israel as mass demonstrations continue on May 14, 2018 in Gaza City, Credit: Getty Images
    A wounded Palestinian man is rushed to an ambulance at the border fence with Israel as mass demonstrations continue on May 14, 2018 in Gaza City, Credit: Getty Images

    Jeremy Corbyn has described the deaths of at least 60 Palestinians as an “outrage” and has called for action by the international community to “hold those responsible to account”.

    Describing yesterday’s violence on the Gaza border as a “slaughter”, the Labour leader accused the IDF of a “wanton disregard for international law” and repeated his call for a review of UK arms sale to Israel.

    But Mr Corbyn referenced Israeli peace and justice campaigners and insisted Western governments should follow their lead “to demand an end to the multiple abuses of human and political rights Palestinians face on a daily basis, the 11-year siege of Gaza, the continuing 50-year occupation of Palestinian territory and the ongoing expansion of illegal settlements”.

    A Downing Street spokesman said Prime Minister Theresa May was “concerned by the reports of violence and the loss of life in Gaza.

    “We urge calm and restraint to avoid actions destructive to peace efforts.”

    Alistair Burt, the Middle East Middle, issued a statement on Twitter: “Extremely saddened by loss of life in Gaza today. Concerned peaceful protests are being exploited by extremist elements. Urge restraint in use of live fire. Violence is destructive to peace efforts.

    “UK remains committed to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital.”

    Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary condemned the Israeli government for “brutal, lethal and entirely unjustified actions on the Gazan border”.

    Mrs Thornberry added: “These actions are made all the worse because they come not as the result of a disproportionate over-reaction to one day’s protests, but as a culmination of six weeks of an apparently systemic and deliberate policy of killing and maiming unarmed protestors and bystanders who pose no threat to the forces at the Gaza border, many of them shot in the back … and many of them children.”

    Luciana Berger wrote on Twitter of the  "the hugely inflammatory decision by the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem."

    She added the scenes on the Gaza border were "horrific" and said "it is vital that there is urgent restraint in order to immediately halt the loss of civilian life. The voices of those in Israel who advocate for peace must not be drowned out."

    Alex Sobel, the Jewish Labour MP for Leeds North West accused Israel of acting “well outside how progressive democracies act”.

    Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North added: “There can be no doubt about what Hamas is and what it represents. But here’s an uncomfortable truth: Hamas has no better friend or recruiting sergeant than this Israeli government.

    “The failure of political leadership - in Israel, Palestine and the USA - contemptible.”

    In an interview with the JC, Stephen Crabb, chair of the Conservative Friends of Israel group, outlined its support for Israel’s right to defend itself from attempts to breach the Gaza border while accusing Hamas of “manipulating the citizens of Gaza”.

    In in a statement the Labour Friends of Israel group said: “It is clear after yesterday’s terrible death toll that the violence on the Gazan border has to stop.

    “Hamas must end its cynical exploitation of peaceful protests to launch attacks on Israel and we would urge the IDF to ensure they take all measures necessary to minimise civilian casualties and show restraint.”

    Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador in the UK, appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme and attempted to defend the IDF response, saying: "We used live fire in only a very measured way in a very surgical way".

    CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE and CFI Executive Director James Gurd said: “The ongoing events on the Israel-Gaza border are truly heart breaking, and the loss of lives deeply concerning.

    "What makes the matter worse is Hamas’s cynical manipulation of a legitimate protest to further its well-documented violent and genocidal intentions towards Israeli citizens, which is deplorable.

    "In the face of attempts to breach the border and attack civilians, Israel (like any other country) has the right to self-defence. We hope there will be no further casualties and we urge restraint on all sides.”

     

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