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

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.

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

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

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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 

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The myth of Hamas’s human shield 

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

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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

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