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Gaza: Cameron urges Israel to ‘exercise restraint’

David Cameron said casualty figures were very disturbing. Picture: Getty

David Cameron said casualty figures were very disturbing. Picture: Getty

  • by MARGARET NEIGHBOUR
 

ISRAEL’S armed forces have distributed a mocked-up image of Westminster under missile attack, in the hope of persuading Britons that the country’s military incursion into Gaza is justified.

Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon has said he is prepared to continue the offensive “as long as necessary” to halt rocket fire and other attacks from Gaza, which Israel blames on the Hamas government which controls the enclave. Since the start of the Israeli operation, almost 2,000 rockets have been fired at Israel.

A message on the official Twitter feed of the Israel Defence Forces showed the composite picture of missiles raining down on the Houses of Parliament under the text: “Hamas terrorists just fired rockets at southern and central Israel. What if they were attacking your home?”

Yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron said Israel had a right to defend itself but urged it to “exercise restraint” and avoid civilian casualties as it takes action against Hamas.

Mr Cameron also said it was vital for Hamas to engage with ceasefire proposals.

He said the UK government backed UN resolutions aimed at tackling the ongoing crisis.

Mr Cameron told MPs: “I share the grave concern in the international community about the heavy toll on civilian casualties – the figures are very disturbing.

“I spoke to prime minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu again about this crisis last night. I repeated our recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, and our condemnation of Hamas’ refusal to end their rocket attacks despite all efforts to broker a ceasefire.

“But I urged him to do everything to avoid civilian casualties, exercise restraint and to help find ways to bring this situation to an end.”

Mr Cameron said the Israeli government had been ready to take part in a ceasefire but Hamas had refused.

He said the UK government “strongly endorsed” a UN resolution on this crisis, saying it was vital Hamas recognised the need to end the crisis.

Mr Cameron said: “We urge Hamas to engage with the ceasefire proposals put forward by the Egyptian government. It is only by securing a ceasefire the space can be created to address the underlying issues and return to the long and painstaking task of lasting and secure peace we all want to see.”

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip amounted to a “deliberately disproportionate form of collective punishment”.

Yesterday, Mr Clegg said: “It is simply intolerable that the people of Israel need to continue to live in constant fear and terror that their homes are going to be bombarded by rockets fired from Gaza. Israel has every right to defend itself from those reprehensible rocket attacks.

“But equally, it is essential that Israel acts proportionately. There is now an outright humanitarian crisis in Gaza affecting thousands upon thousands of Gazans.”

In a speech in London, Tony Blair, the Middle East peace envoy of The Quartet – the US, European Union, UN and Russia – said: “I am sad and angry about the tragedy of the Gaza conflict, its people pawns in a wider struggle, hundreds of Palestinians losing their lives in this nightmare.

“I witness the fear and insecurity of Israelis who still see their right to exist under challenge. I long to see two peoples and two states side by side in peace.”

Mr Blair added: “It is vitally important that we put in place a long-term solution for Gaza.”

 

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