Labour criticises UK abstention on Gaza violence
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Labour criticises UK abstention on Gaza violence

Emily Thornberrry hits out against British decision not to condemn reported use of live fire against Palestinians

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry speaks during the Labour Party's annual conference. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry speaks during the Labour Party's annual conference. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberrry criticised the UK’s decision to abstain on a vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council on a report investigating protests last year in Gaza and the responses to them, which saw live ammunition used against protesters.

Ms Thornberry told the House of Commons of Dr Tarek Loubani, who was shot through the legs while volunteering as a medic in Gaza last spring.

Moments after he was injured, one of his colleagues was shot and killed in front of him.

Ms Thornberry said this proved live ammunition was being used, and said the UK should take a stronger stance in registering its opposition to this.

She said: “Live ammunition was used, in a way that cannot be explained and cannot be justified, against individuals like Dr Loubani and thousands more like him.

“And yet this morning the Government has abstained on a resolution endorsing that report, in effect telling the Israeli authorities ‘we refuse to find fault with your actions’.”

Ms Thornberry added: “If Dr Loubani can not be given justice for the injuries he has suffered and the killing of his colleagues, surely he deserves at least to hear the world, including our own country, unequivocally condemn them.”

But Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said the report had not gone far enough in its scope and could not be “even-handed”.

He said: “We said that because of the nature of the inquiry, it would not be looking at the actions of those who were responsible for taking people to the fence and have some complicit action in relation to what happened, that the inquiry could not be even-handed and balanced. That is why we abstained in the first place, and that is why we abstained again.”

Mr Burt said the Government remains concerned at the “shocking” situation and loss of life in Gaza.

“We have repeatedly made clear to Israel our long-standing concerns about the manner in which the Israel Defence Forces police non-violent protests and the border areas, including the use of live ammunition.”

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