Thank you for writing to me about the horrific situation in Israel and Gaza.
We have all seen footage and heard reports of appalling human suffering in the past week which I will certainly never forget. Innocent men, women, and children dead, injured, tortured and taken hostage. I know that there are families in Cardiff Central who have been directly affected by what is happening and have lost family members. I mourn with them, and I also mourn the loss of every single civilian life.
I absolutely condemn Hamas’s appalling and ongoing attacks on Israel. There can never be a justification for terrorism. Hamas bears responsibility for this crisis. Both Palestinians and Israelis are suffering terribly because of Hamas’s actions which have set back the cause of peace.
I fully support Israel’s right to defend itself, rescue hostages and protect its civilians. Indeed, it has a duty to do so. Hamas must release its hostages immediately.
It is essential that no-one conflates Hamas with the Palestinian people. Hamas terrorists are not the same as the Palestinian people and do not represent their absolute and legitimate right to dignity, freedom, justice, and self-determination. Hamas have no interest in Palestinian rights and no interest in the security of the people in Gaza. They unleash terror and then hide amongst them – women and children used as human shields; hostages held, including children, who must be released.
And as Labour has said from the beginning of this terrible situation, all leaders must abide by international law. That means civilians must not be targeted, there must be humanitarian access to Gaza, and there must be access to supplies of food, water, electricity, fuel and medicines. No fuel means hospitals cannot function, and we know that this means incubators will be unable to operate, and babies will die along with many other innocent injured civilians.
I am extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza. There is an acute humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes. Given the evacuation has started, there must be safe corridors within Gaza, as the EU and US have said. Labour is speaking daily to the UN, NGOs and the UK government about how civilians in Gaza can and must be protected.
We have pressed the government to set out a clear plan to ensure the safe return of British nationals in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories who want to return. We welcome that rescue flights are starting to be chartered and will work with the government on this.
Here in Cardiff Central and more widely across the UK, we cannot allow these tragic events to divide our communities. There has been a rise in both antisemitic incidents and Islamophobia threats, abuse and assaults in parts of the UK in recent days.
We denounce hate crime in the strongest terms. We are in touch with the police, the Community Security Trust and Tell Mama, who are coordinating the response to such threats. We expect to see a robust response to all incidents of hate associated with the conflict and call on the UK government to support these groups and to play their part in preventing an escalation of tensions.
Yesterday, Keir Starmer said the following in a statement in the House of Commons. I agree with every word.
“I do not want Britain to be a place where Jewish schools are closed, where Jewish children stay at home out of fear and where Jewish families feel compelled to hide their identity. I do not want Britain to be a place where British Muslims feel they have to apologise for the actions of people who do not act in their name. We cannot allow community cohesion in our country to be destroyed. We all bear a responsibility to do all we can to stamp out hate, and we fully support police action to provide extra assistance for our communities.”