PM refuses to call attacks criminal

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the UN is right to speak out over Israel's actions in Gaza

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the UN is right to speak out over Israel's actions in Gaza

First published in National News © by

David Cameron has refused to say whether he believes Israel's actions in Gaza are "criminal" after a brief ceasefire brought a lull in the bloodshed.

The Prime Minister said the UN was "right" to condemn an airstrike near a school in Rafah that left 10 people dead. But he stopped short of endorsing secretary general Ban Ki-Moon's description of the attack as a "moral outrage and a criminal act".

The comments came amid reports that a British aid worker from Rochdale was among those killed in the military campaign yesterday.

Tel Aviv declared a "humanitarian window" in designated parts of Gaza from 7am UK time until this evening.

Palestinian officials accused Israel of breaking the truce within minutes by bombing a house in Gaza City, while a Palestinian construction worker was apparently shot dead after an attack on a bus in Jerusalem that claimed the life of an Israeli civilian.

But reports indicated a significant reduction in violence.

The ground element of the four-week operation to tackle heavy rocket fire and tunnel incursions from Gaza is believed to be scaling down, but the air campaign shows little signs of ending. An estimated 1,800 Palestinians - a third of them said to be civilians - and more than 60 Israelis have died.

Ten people were killed in the latest incident at a UN school in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, which had been converted into a shelter. The Red Crescent charity said the attack happened while people were queuing to get food from aid workers.

The Prime Minister was criticised by Ed Miliband over the weekend for failing to take a tough enough line with Tel Aviv over the crisis.

The Labour leader said the UK needed to send a clear message that the military operation was "wrong and unacceptable".

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr Cameron said: "I think the UN is right to speak out in the way that it has, because international law is very clear that there must not be the targeting of civilians or the targeting of schools, if that is what has happened.

"The UN, as the international body, is right to speak out in the way it has."

Pressed on whether he regarded the attack as a "criminal act", Mr Cameron replied: "The UN has spoken very clearly and I think they are right to speak very clearly...

"I'm not an international lawyer, so that's up to international lawyers. But international law is very, very clear that the use of force always has to be proportionate and civilians should not be targeted."

Mr Cameron said the Government had been "very clear that there needs to be an immediate comprehensive humanitarian ceasefire, that we want this conflict to stop".

"We obviously do think it is appalling, the loss of life that there has been," he said. "From the start, though, we have also made the point that if the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel stop, then that would be probably the fastest way to stop this conflict."

Mr Cameron said the Government was urgently investigating reports that an aid worker from Rochdale had been killed in an air strike last night.

Speaking on a visit to the Loos Cemetery in northern France, Mr Cameron said: "I'm extremely concerned about these reports and we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom (of them) and find out exactly what has happened.

"I don't want to say anything before we've been able to do that but this only reinforces the need for an immediate unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, observed properly by both sides.

"This slaughter, this killing has got to end."

Downing Street confirmed that all licences for exporting arms to Israel were being reviewed, although no decisions have been taken on whether to withdraw any.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced that the UK is to provide an extra £2 million in emergency assistance to help provide mattresses, blankets, nappies, cooking equipment and other essential supplies for nearly 8,000 families who have fled the conflict in Gaza.

The cash will be contributed to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) Gaza flash appeal and brings the UK's aid funding for Gaza up to £15 million in the last two weeks.

Israel's ambassador to London Daniel Taub told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the human suffering and loss of life in Gaza was "appalling".

But he added: "I think we need to stop for a moment and remember exactly what is happening.

"Hamas's strategy... is to operate from the vicinity of UN facilities, of hospitals.

"We are aware that there are terrorist organisations across the world... who are watching what is happening in Gaza asking themselves 'Have we found the Achilles heel of democracies fighting terrorism?'.

"In that situation, not responding is simply not an option."

Asked whether Israel would still strike if its own citizens were the victims, he replied: "The answer is yes. We cannot have a situation where terrorists prove that hiding behind civilians is a way of getting carte blanche."

The ambassador called the most recent attack on a UN school a "tragic incident" and stressed that Israel was investigating what had happened.

But he added: "Three times over the past week and a half we have found UN schools... that have been used as stockpiles, as storage houses. It is clearly not appropriate that schools, hospitals should be used for this sort of activity."

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander welcomed the temporary ceasefire today but warned that the killing of civilians and children in Gaza in recent days represented "both a moral failure and a strategic error".

He said: "Today's latest news, both of a reported terror attack in Jerusalem and reports of the tragic death of a British aid worker in Gaza, only confirms the suffering that continues.

"Hamas displays no regard for human life and must cease firing rockets into Israel and digging tunnels to facilitate the murder of civilians.

"But sustainable security for Israel cannot be achieved simply by permanent blockade, aerial bombardment and periodic ground incursion.

"Instead, it requires acknowledging that Palestinian statehood is not a gift to be given but a right to be recognised, and sustained efforts must be made to move beyond a profoundly unjust status quo."

Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who chairs the all-p arty parliamentary group on human rights, told Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond that the UK and others need to be clearer in telling the Israeli government that its actions we re "legally and morally wrong" and "counter-productive".

In a letter to Mr Hammond, she questioned what the UK proposes to do on its own and with its allies to protect civilians and end the conflict in Gaza.

Ms Clwyd said Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel but added despite Israel's right of self-defence, it was wrong to respond by carrying out its current operation on Gaza.

The MP for Cynon Valley questioned why the UK had been reticent in condemning Israel, adding to Mr Hammond in her letter that Israel's actions has led to some Palestinians becoming "more extremist".

Ms Clwyd told the Foreign Secretary : " You would no doubt agree that while weakening Hamas' military capability and destroying the tunnels in Gaza may be viewed by Israel as a significant victory now, Israel's actions can only serve to inflame many Palestinians, with some becoming more extremist.

"Enforced isolation has already resulted in half of Gazans living in poverty. These attacks will generate further despair, dislocation and deprivation - with the killing and maiming of relatives, widespread displacement and destruction of infrastructure.

"The UN has warned of a 'health disaster of widespread proportions', with medical services facing collapse.

"As you have acknowledged, an immediate and unconditional ceasefire is urgently needed. That is the first step. The international community must then get all sides to negotiate a just settlement to stop this cycle of violence.

"The Middle East peace process can no longer be mainly the US's responsibility but that of all wishing to see peace in two states, Israel and Palestine, as well as across the Middle East. What will the UK be doing in that regard?"

Conservative former minister Crispin Blunt said both sides in the conflict were "arguably committing war crimes" while the Government should retain the option to impose sanctions on Israel.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Blunt said: " You've got both sides arguably committing war crimes here, which is why the slaughter is so appalling in Gaza and we've got to have a route to solve the overall situation, which means a route to a settlement of the Middle East peace issue between Israel and the Palestinians."

He added: "It's fairly straight-forward that firing rockets indiscriminately at people is against the Geneva Convention, as is the level of disproportionate responses coming back from Israel and this is the third time Israel has had to run a very serious operation into Gaza of this kind.

"Now, over the whole of that period you can make a case, that I think stands up, that Israel has actually obstructed rather than enabled a route to a settlement of the overall conflict. It complains it does not have a negotiating partner - well, it ought to get serious about helping its partner."

Mr Blunt said Israel should be told it is expected to adhere to the highest possible standards and to be serious to make "very difficult concessions" required to reach a solution.

Asked if the UK Government should look at sanctions against Israel, Mr Blunt said: "Of course it has to have that in its pocket. It's in everyone's interest that we address this issue properly.

"We've got to understand we've got two sides here, both of which enjoy popular support from their people for conflict which in the end is just leading us absolutely nowhere but to the murder and mutilation of hundreds if not thousands of innocent people."

Comments (10)

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3:11pm Mon 4 Aug 14

theargusissoinformative says...

Mr Cameron has chosen his words diplomatically and carefully, so as not to drag us in. I don't think we want to be taking note of Mr Miliband, do we? He does sound a bit desperate. It is not as if Israel is Nazi Germany, is it?
Mr Cameron has chosen his words diplomatically and carefully, so as not to drag us in. I don't think we want to be taking note of Mr Miliband, do we? He does sound a bit desperate. It is not as if Israel is Nazi Germany, is it? theargusissoinformative
  • Score: -9

4:05pm Mon 4 Aug 14

KSO16R says...

'The numbers might be different but the crime is the same'
'The numbers might be different but the crime is the same' KSO16R
  • Score: 1

4:06pm Mon 4 Aug 14

KSO16R says...

'The numbers might be different but the crime is the same' Cameron is a gutless hypocrite
'The numbers might be different but the crime is the same' Cameron is a gutless hypocrite KSO16R
  • Score: 6

4:55pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Shropshirelad says...

Labour and the Green Party are to my knowledge, the only ones to come out with anything like serious criticism of Israel. Clegg for the Lib Dems has come close but the real "gutless", unprincipled, thoroughly unspeakable Tories defy all logic. Cameron, without any qualms at all, and no matter how he insults our intelligence and no matter how much he demeans our country, wraps his words up in so much "double speak" that the only conclusion that one can draw is that he supports, with the rest of the Tories, the Israeli position hook, line and sinker. Not only because of this latest bout of deceit and treachery but of other issues with May etc, he has lost mine and my family's vote and many friends of mine, He does not realise how angry the people are with what the Israelis are doing and he is out of step with his own country.
When will these people get it into their thick heads that the reason for the approach of Hamas and the Palestinians in general is because they have had all their land stolen, they have tried negotiation with Israel and everything else, nothing but nothing works with them and they have no intention of giving up any Palestinian land. When the President of Israel say's quite openly that the whole of the land of Israel and the "occupied" Palestinian land belongs to Israel - what does one expect the Palestinians to do, just roll over and give it up to the principle of "might is right". If I were a Palestinian, I would do what they are doing and more. Cameron is sickening, I just hope that he is turfed out of office on his ear. At least we can get some pride and esteem back with a changed foreign policy if a new party/government takes over from these treacherous Tories. Once bitten Cameron, for me, never again.
Labour and the Green Party are to my knowledge, the only ones to come out with anything like serious criticism of Israel. Clegg for the Lib Dems has come close but the real "gutless", unprincipled, thoroughly unspeakable Tories defy all logic. Cameron, without any qualms at all, and no matter how he insults our intelligence and no matter how much he demeans our country, wraps his words up in so much "double speak" that the only conclusion that one can draw is that he supports, with the rest of the Tories, the Israeli position hook, line and sinker. Not only because of this latest bout of deceit and treachery but of other issues with May etc, he has lost mine and my family's vote and many friends of mine, He does not realise how angry the people are with what the Israelis are doing and he is out of step with his own country. When will these people get it into their thick heads that the reason for the approach of Hamas and the Palestinians in general is because they have had all their land stolen, they have tried negotiation with Israel and everything else, nothing but nothing works with them and they have no intention of giving up any Palestinian land. When the President of Israel say's quite openly that the whole of the land of Israel and the "occupied" Palestinian land belongs to Israel - what does one expect the Palestinians to do, just roll over and give it up to the principle of "might is right". If I were a Palestinian, I would do what they are doing and more. Cameron is sickening, I just hope that he is turfed out of office on his ear. At least we can get some pride and esteem back with a changed foreign policy if a new party/government takes over from these treacherous Tories. Once bitten Cameron, for me, never again. Shropshirelad
  • Score: 1

6:47pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

"If I were a Palestinian, I would do what they are doing and more.

So by saying you wish to join Hamas, you are actively admitting that you'd punish homosexuality by death and want to kill all Jews worldwide (including many of the commenters on these threads)? I presume the 'bit more' might be to 'euthanize' disabled people so that you can emulate your true idols? You are a sick, deranged man and should be reported to the police.
"If I were a Palestinian, I would do what they are doing and more. So by saying you wish to join Hamas, you are actively admitting that you'd punish homosexuality by death and want to kill all Jews worldwide (including many of the commenters on these threads)? I presume the 'bit more' might be to 'euthanize' disabled people so that you can emulate your true idols? You are a sick, deranged man and should be reported to the police. Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: -3

6:50pm Mon 4 Aug 14

pete woodley says...

Shropshirelad wrote:
Labour and the Green Party are to my knowledge, the only ones to come out with anything like serious criticism of Israel. Clegg for the Lib Dems has come close but the real "gutless", unprincipled, thoroughly unspeakable Tories defy all logic. Cameron, without any qualms at all, and no matter how he insults our intelligence and no matter how much he demeans our country, wraps his words up in so much "double speak" that the only conclusion that one can draw is that he supports, with the rest of the Tories, the Israeli position hook, line and sinker. Not only because of this latest bout of deceit and treachery but of other issues with May etc, he has lost mine and my family's vote and many friends of mine, He does not realise how angry the people are with what the Israelis are doing and he is out of step with his own country.
When will these people get it into their thick heads that the reason for the approach of Hamas and the Palestinians in general is because they have had all their land stolen, they have tried negotiation with Israel and everything else, nothing but nothing works with them and they have no intention of giving up any Palestinian land. When the President of Israel say's quite openly that the whole of the land of Israel and the "occupied" Palestinian land belongs to Israel - what does one expect the Palestinians to do, just roll over and give it up to the principle of "might is right". If I were a Palestinian, I would do what they are doing and more. Cameron is sickening, I just hope that he is turfed out of office on his ear. At least we can get some pride and esteem back with a changed foreign policy if a new party/government takes over from these treacherous Tories. Once bitten Cameron, for me, never again.
I,am not angry with what Israel is doing, but furious with those who condone Hamas who are using schools and hospitals for their attacks.
[quote][p][bold]Shropshirelad[/bold] wrote: Labour and the Green Party are to my knowledge, the only ones to come out with anything like serious criticism of Israel. Clegg for the Lib Dems has come close but the real "gutless", unprincipled, thoroughly unspeakable Tories defy all logic. Cameron, without any qualms at all, and no matter how he insults our intelligence and no matter how much he demeans our country, wraps his words up in so much "double speak" that the only conclusion that one can draw is that he supports, with the rest of the Tories, the Israeli position hook, line and sinker. Not only because of this latest bout of deceit and treachery but of other issues with May etc, he has lost mine and my family's vote and many friends of mine, He does not realise how angry the people are with what the Israelis are doing and he is out of step with his own country. When will these people get it into their thick heads that the reason for the approach of Hamas and the Palestinians in general is because they have had all their land stolen, they have tried negotiation with Israel and everything else, nothing but nothing works with them and they have no intention of giving up any Palestinian land. When the President of Israel say's quite openly that the whole of the land of Israel and the "occupied" Palestinian land belongs to Israel - what does one expect the Palestinians to do, just roll over and give it up to the principle of "might is right". If I were a Palestinian, I would do what they are doing and more. Cameron is sickening, I just hope that he is turfed out of office on his ear. At least we can get some pride and esteem back with a changed foreign policy if a new party/government takes over from these treacherous Tories. Once bitten Cameron, for me, never again.[/p][/quote]I,am not angry with what Israel is doing, but furious with those who condone Hamas who are using schools and hospitals for their attacks. pete woodley
  • Score: -1

7:16pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

Evidently, this 'Shropshire Lad' Hamas wannabe has read their Charter which makes direct reference to that century-old infamous, anti-Semitic Russian Tsarist Police officer's forgery called 'The Protocol of the Elders of Zion'. For anyone who doesn't believe the wacko far-right are jumping onto the bandwagon and usurping legitimate criticism of the government of Israel here we see a classic example.
Evidently, this 'Shropshire Lad' Hamas wannabe has read their Charter which makes direct reference to that century-old infamous, anti-Semitic Russian Tsarist Police officer's forgery called 'The Protocol of the Elders of Zion'. For anyone who doesn't believe the wacko far-right are jumping onto the bandwagon and usurping legitimate criticism of the government of Israel here we see a classic example. Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: -1

7:18pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

Btw...does Ed Miliband refuse to call Tony Blair's 2003 invasion of Iraq criminal?
Btw...does Ed Miliband refuse to call Tony Blair's 2003 invasion of Iraq criminal? Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: -5

8:26pm Mon 4 Aug 14

welshmen says...

Shorshirelass: your hate for peace could destroy your thinking here, you seem hell bent on continuing your posted hatred for Israel, a few points below could help you to recall from terrorism as this seems your path to justify your thread on this..

Judaism is a religion of revelation, like Christianity, and has no inherent tie to a particular land. Jews are not a nation but rather a community of believers. In any case, any Israelite presence was a short period in the long history of Palestine. Ultimately, religious myths, without presence and possession, are incapable of creating an ownership right. Palestinians are in fact, descendants of all previous inhabitants, including Israelites. Those Jews living in Palestine and the Muslim world before 1882 were well treated by Muslim neighbours and rulers. pity it isn't happing now...

The refugee issue was artificially kept alive by the Arab states, who deliberately used the refugees as pawns against Israel. The real reason for the continuation of the conflict was the refusal of the Arab states to recognize Israeli’s existence. Israel has repeatedly offered peace, but not at the price of the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, which has been the Arab goal since 1948.

If none of this has recalled your keenness to voice hatred at the Israeli, perhaps you should go to Gaza, join with Hamas, put your Green bandanna around head, strap a couple of babies to your chest, double mag in the AK 47 and off you go, or you could just grow up and stop spouting your hatred at anybody that doesn't echo your thoughts....
Shorshirelass: your hate for peace could destroy your thinking here, you seem hell bent on continuing your posted hatred for Israel, a few points below could help you to recall from terrorism as this seems your path to justify your thread on this.. Judaism is a religion of revelation, like Christianity, and has no inherent tie to a particular land. Jews are not a nation but rather a community of believers. In any case, any Israelite presence was a short period in the long history of Palestine. Ultimately, religious myths, without presence and possession, are incapable of creating an ownership right. Palestinians are in fact, descendants of all previous inhabitants, including Israelites. Those Jews living in Palestine and the Muslim world before 1882 were well treated by Muslim neighbours and rulers. pity it isn't happing now... The refugee issue was artificially kept alive by the Arab states, who deliberately used the refugees as pawns against Israel. The real reason for the continuation of the conflict was the refusal of the Arab states to recognize Israeli’s existence. Israel has repeatedly offered peace, but not at the price of the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, which has been the Arab goal since 1948. If none of this has recalled your keenness to voice hatred at the Israeli, perhaps you should go to Gaza, join with Hamas, put your Green bandanna around head, strap a couple of babies to your chest, double mag in the AK 47 and off you go, or you could just grow up and stop spouting your hatred at anybody that doesn't echo your thoughts.... welshmen
  • Score: -1

5:53am Sat 9 Aug 14

sensiblefellow says...

I do not usually agree with the Tories or with Cameron but, on the issue of the recent response by Israel towards the Hamas terrorists, I am 100% supportive of the government's position. War is never a perfectly surgical endeavour and collateral damage will always occur. Israeli intelligence has released imagery indicating Hamas rocket launch sites consistently co-located alongside population centres, including schools and UN buildings. Israel has every right to defend herself against Hamas rocket sites by taking them out. People are perturbed by the imbalance between deaths on both sides, but this is the incorrect way to look at things. Israel's 'Iron Dome' system has prevented the equivalence in fatalities on both sides and, unlike the medieval mindset of Hamas terror, Israel does not deliberately target civilians. Israel is the only liberal democracy in the area and you have to travel a considerable distance east until you reach the next democracy, India. Look at an atlas; between Israel and India lies a sea of all too often dangerously irrational 6th century thought, which threatens the security of both Israel and India (the latter of whom happen to be close allies). Rather than condemning Israel, the people of the UK should be embracing this glowing beacon of 21st century regional civilisation. The time has come to stop condemning Israel for conducting herself in the same way that we would in the UK, if we were being bombarded by rockets. We should reserve our condemnation for the likes of ISIS, Al-Quaeda, Hamas, the Kashmiri Hizbul Mujahideen and Pakistan's intelligence agency.
I do not usually agree with the Tories or with Cameron but, on the issue of the recent response by Israel towards the Hamas terrorists, I am 100% supportive of the government's position. War is never a perfectly surgical endeavour and collateral damage will always occur. Israeli intelligence has released imagery indicating Hamas rocket launch sites consistently co-located alongside population centres, including schools and UN buildings. Israel has every right to defend herself against Hamas rocket sites by taking them out. People are perturbed by the imbalance between deaths on both sides, but this is the incorrect way to look at things. Israel's 'Iron Dome' system has prevented the equivalence in fatalities on both sides and, unlike the medieval mindset of Hamas terror, Israel does not deliberately target civilians. Israel is the only liberal democracy in the area and you have to travel a considerable distance east until you reach the next democracy, India. Look at an atlas; between Israel and India lies a sea of all too often dangerously irrational 6th century thought, which threatens the security of both Israel and India (the latter of whom happen to be close allies). Rather than condemning Israel, the people of the UK should be embracing this glowing beacon of 21st century regional civilisation. The time has come to stop condemning Israel for conducting herself in the same way that we would in the UK, if we were being bombarded by rockets. We should reserve our condemnation for the likes of ISIS, Al-Quaeda, Hamas, the Kashmiri Hizbul Mujahideen and Pakistan's intelligence agency. sensiblefellow
  • Score: 2
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