Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

UK ministers criticised for tame response to Gaza massacre

The government faced criticism from backbench MP's in its own party

 Palestinian protesters run for cover from Israeli tear-gas during clashes after near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza Strip, 15 May 2018 
 Palestinian protesters run for cover from Israeli tear-gas during clashes after near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza Strip, 15 May 2018 

Criticism of the UK government’s response to the latest round of violence in Gaza has mounted with ministers under fire for a tame response to the killings of at least 58 Palestinians who were protesting at the Israeli border fence on Monday.

The statement in the aftermath of the incident was delivered by the minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, who angered MPs across parliament with the tone of his comments. “The loss of life and the large number of injured Palestinians is tragic, and it is extremely worrying that the number of those killed continues to rise,” he said. “The large volume of live fire is extremely concerning. We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint.”

He also called for an independent investigation into the events along the Gaza border, but for many it was insufficient, with Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition leader labelling the government’s line as “wholly inadequate”.

Mr Corbyn added that the killings were “an outrage”, and demanded action “to hold those responsible to account.”

Criticism of the Israeli government, and particularly the UK government’s response to the crisis also came from some usually regarded as staunch supporters.

In an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames also took aim at the government lacklustre reaction to the deaths. “To my shame, I hope our Foreign Office will indulge in a little less limp response to this horrible situation,” he said.

The question as followed by further criticism on Twitter. “[FCO] answers on Israel/Palestine as weak today as they have been all the last thirty years and it’s not good enough”.

Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle labelled the assault and the deaths that occurred as a shameful day for Israel. “No one can tell me that the correct response was to fire live ammunition at unarmed Palestinians.”

Daniel Sugarman, another journalist with The Chronicle, called for the condemnation of Israel. “You cannot tell me that Israel, a land of technological miracles which have to be seen to be truly believed, is incapable of coming up with a way of incapacitating protestors that does not include gunning dozens of them down.


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“It [Israel] deserves our criticism, and our full-throated condemnation, of its current course of action,” it continued.

The deadly day of protests coincided with the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, a controversial move announced by President Donald Trump last year. Though most EU countries steered clear of the move, Palestine recalled its ambassadors from four European countries which attended the celebration. Envoys from Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria were all order home for 'consultations'.

Updated: May 16, 2018 05:34 PM