Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

John Prescott condemns Israel's bombardment of Gaza as a 'war crime'

Former Deputy PM Lord Prescott has said Israel's bombardment of Gaza is a 'war crime'
Former Deputy PM Lord Prescott has said Israel's bombardment of Gaza is a 'war crime'
File photo dated 28/069/2000 of former South African President Nelson Mandela greeting Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott (left) as Prime Minister Tony Blair looks on at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Former South African leader Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95, the country's president, Jacob Zuma, said tonight. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday December 5, 2013. See PA story DEATH Mandela. Photo credit should read Matthew Fearn/PA Wire
File photo dated 28/069/2000 of former South African President Nelson Mandela greeting Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott (left) as Prime Minister Tony Blair looks on at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Former South African leader Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95, the country's president, Jacob Zuma, said tonight. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday December 5, 2013. See PA story DEATH Mandela. Photo credit should read Matthew Fearn/PA Wire

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has called Israel’s destruction of Gaza a “war crime” which is “brutally disproportionate and so grossly indiscriminate”.

Labour politician Lord Prescott censured Israel for acting as “judge, jury and executioner” in its quest to mute Hamas “terrorists,” turning Gaza into what he says is a “concentrate camp.”

He also said that the Nazi Holocaust should have given the Jewish people of Israel “a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto”.

Israel has resumed its bombardment of Gaza this morning after Hamas militants refused to extend a 12-hour ceasefire.

The brief silence over Gaza had allowed residents to stockpile essentials, recover bodies from the apocalyptic rubble and revisit their devastated homes.

Writing in his column in the Sunday Mirror, Mr Prescott penned his disdain for the international community’s relative silence on a nation that if it were any other, would be “branded a pariah state” following the deaths of so many children.

“The calls for regime change would be ­deafening. But these howls of protest are muted. The condemnation softened. For this is Israel,” he said.

Israel’s Cabinet had agreed to a unilateral ceasefire extension until 9pm GMT Sunday, but this has now been shelved after seven rockets were fired from Palestine early this morning, its military said.

Following what it described as “Hamas’ incessant rocket fire,” the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) is now continuing its assault.

In 19 days of fighting, 1,047 Palestinians – most of whom have been civilians – and 46 Israelis – of which 43 are soldiers – have died.

Seen from Gaza City, smoke and flames rise from Gaza's electricity distribution company plant after it was hit by Israeli strikes in the Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip,Tuesday, July 29, 2014 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Seen from Gaza City, smoke and flames rise from Gaza's electricity distribution company plant after it was hit by Israeli strikes in the Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip,Tuesday, July 29, 2014 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Smoke rises from the offices of the Hamas movement's Al-Aqsa satellite TV station, in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, shortly after was hit and destroyed by an Israeli strike, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Smoke rises from the offices of the Hamas movement's Al-Aqsa satellite TV station, in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, shortly after was hit and destroyed by an Israeli strike, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Police officers stand in red paint which was thrown during a rally outside the Israeli Embassy to oppose Israel's actions in Gaza on July 19, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
Police officers stand in red paint which was thrown during a rally outside the Israeli Embassy to oppose Israel's actions in Gaza on July 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Mr Prescott added: “[Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu says the Israeli Defense Forces phone Gaza civilians to warn them to move out when missile attacks are expected. They even send smaller missiles to ‘roof knock’ ahead of the big bomb that’s to follow.

“But where can these people escape to? They’re hemmed in to a densely populated strip of land by the sea with no means of escape. When Israel is blasting hospitals and even UN schools acting as ­shelters, where exactly is it safe to flee to?”

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond travelled to Israel earlier this week for crisis talks between Middle Eastern leaders and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Mr Hammond reminded Israel of its obligation under international law to take “all feasible precautions” to avoid civilian casualties.

Further reading

Pope Francis issues desperate plea to fighters - 'I ask you with all my heart, stop please' 

The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts 

Gaza war rages despite truce vows

Israel-Hamas ceasefire: At least 60 bodies found in Gaza after 12-hour truce begins

Robert Fisk: What would we do if it had been 35 Palestinian dead, and 800 Israeli? 

Israeli targeting policy under scrutiny after shellfire hits a mother and child, a school full of refugees and a doctor’s home

Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza, says UN's human rights chief Navi Pillay

Civilian casualties in Gaza tell stories of death and heartbreak 

Deadly flechette shells used by Israeli military in Gaza 

The myth of Hamas’s human shield 

Israel-Gaza conflict: UN chief Ban Ki-moon pushing for ceasefire

Gaza bloodbath claims 500 Palestinian lives in relentless Israeli onslaught

Israel-Gaza conflict: Gaza suffers its deadliest day after ‘heinous massacre’ in Shuja’iya

Scores dead in Gaza ground battle 

Gaza action 'must be proportionate'

Israel more brutal than Hitler: Turkish PM

Thousands gather for Gaza protest

What if British had treated Northern Irish like Israel treats Palestine?

Israel launches Gaza ground offensive as four more Palestinian children are killed including a five-month-old baby

Response to Gaza 'lily-livered'

Gaza children killed as they played football on the beach

Israeli government insists it does not target civilians – the day after four children are killed by shelling

Israel actions 'disproportionate'

Gaza: Four Palestinian boys killed in Israeli rocket attack on beach

The deep-lying racism fuelling the Israeli onslaught

Alexei Sayle: Israel is Jimmy Savile of nation states

'Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and hookahs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'

Gaza back-story: A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory

From the archives

Students offered grants if they make pro-Israel Facebook posts and tweets  

Cameraman in Gaza 'killed by deadly flechettes fired from Israeli tank'

Israel 'used white phosphorus deliberately and recklessly'

Kim Sengupta: Claims that Israel is using white phosphorus illegally won't go away

UN: Israelis hit our headquarters in Gaza with 'white phosphorus' shells 

Dime bombs leave Israel's victims with mystery wounds 

Israel accused of Gaza war crimes in Amnesty report

Gaza: Demolished in three weeks. Rebuilding it will take years

 Outrage as Israel bombs UN HQ, hospital, school and media building

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