UPDATE ON ISRAEL AND GAZA
I know that many people are increasingly concerned about the horrifying terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, and the unfolding events in Gaza.
Israel was the victim of terrorism on an unimaginable scale at the hands of Hamas. Israel has a right – a duty – to defend itself, keep its people safe, and bring hostages – who are still being held captive – home. Its operation can and must be done within international law.
The release of four hostages is the first good news out of Gaza in weeks. Hamas must release all the hostages now. We must be clear, if Hamas had a single concern for the safety of the Palestinian people, they would never have taken these hostages. Responsibility for this crisis lies with them.
It is also imperative that we differentiate between Hamas and the Palestinian people suffering terribly in this war, and their desire for dignity, freedom, justice, and self-determination.
Gaza is facing a humanitarian emergency, with water, food, medicines, and other vital supplies running critically low. The situation is urgent and civilians in Gaza need to know the world is not simply watching, but acting, to prevent a humanitarian crisis. It was promising to see a few dozen trucks carrying life-saving humanitarian aid being able to cross into Gaza, but much more is needed. The UK government must do everything in its power to work with partners to get more aid into the Gaza strip.
Labour is calling on the government to increase the UK’s humanitarian aid to Gaza by an extra £10 million, appoint a UK special coordinator for international aid to Gaza, the immediate deployment of British experts and medical support teams, as well as working with international partners to give UN agencies, such as UNRWA, the long-term resources they need.
Here in Britain, we must not allow these tragic events to divide our communities. The Community Safety Trust and the Metropolitan Police have reported a steep increase in antisemitic incidents in recent days, including abuse and assaults. Tell Mama has reported a tripling of cases to their services, including reports of islamophobic threats, abuse and assaults.
Recently I visited a Jewish School in North London to hear how the Jewish community had been impacted by recent events. I heard about how some Jewish schools were temporarily closing, or pupils were being told to not wear school blazers that would identify their schools, out of fear for the safety of the pupils. It is unacceptable that events unfolding in Israel and Gaza are leading to such a massive rise in hate and that children are fearful for their safety.
I expect to see a robust response to all incidents of hate associated with the conflict, and call on government to support the groups working with communities and to play their part in preventing an escalation of tensions. There is no place in Britain for antisemitic hate or Islamophobia.