Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said Israel’s killing of 58 Palestinian protesters and wounding of thousands more is an “outrage” and a “wanton disregard for international law”.
In a Facebook statement, Corbyn described the killings as “flagrant illegality” which “underlines the threat to peace posed by the continuing and intolerable injustices faced by the Palestinian people”.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry was equally scathing, calling Israel’s actions “vicious and utterly avoidable slaughter” and urging an independent investigation.
Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said: “We will not waver from our support for Israel’s right to defend its borders, but the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning. We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint.”
Corbyn said the UK’s response was “wholly inadequate,” adding: “We cannot turn a blind eye to such wanton disregard for international law. That is why Labour is committed to reviewing UK arms sales to Israel while these violations continue.”
Labour MP Luciana Berger, who is Jewish, said America’s decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem was “hugely inflammatory”
Labour Friends of Israel initially tweeted that Hamas was trying “to hijack peaceful protests as cover to attack Israeli border communities,” without referring to Israel, but later deleted the tweet after criticism, instead urging Israel to show restraint. Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan writes in the Jewish News this week, urging an end to the cycle of violence in Gaza.
In the mainstream Jewish community, the Board of Deputies said: “Israel is defending its people from repeated violent attempts at mass invasion… The responsibility for the violence lies with Hamas.”
However other Jewish groups such as Jewdas, with whom Corbyn celebrated Pesach, joined a Downing Street demonstration against Israeli action in Gaza.
Jewish group Yachad said: “Those that say Israel has no cause for concern are denying a genuine security threat. But the deaths of 60 Gazans, including an eight-month-old baby, as a result of IDF live fire at protesters is unacceptable.”