Israel has gone beyond self-defence in Gaza, Tory MP Alicia Kearns says

Israel has gone beyond self-defence in Gaza, Tory MP Alicia Kearns says

Israel has “gone beyond self-defence” in the Gaza war and lost its moral authority, senior Conservative MP Alicia Kearns has said.

Ms Kearns said she believed Israel had broken humanitarian law in Gaza.

She said she agreed with former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who has warned Israel risks fuelling the conflict.

In a Daily Telegraph article, Mr Wallace said Israel’s legal basis for military action in Gaza was “being undermined” by its tactics.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that the war will be fought until Hamas is dismantled in Gaza.

The Israeli offensive, which followed the deadly 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas, has seen much of northern Gaza flattened and 85% of the territory’s 2.3 million population driven from their homes.

Mr Wallace said Israel was “making the mistake of losing its moral authority alongside its legal one”.

When asked if she agreed with Mr Wallace on this point, Ms Kearns told the BBC: “I think unfortunately it has. International humanitarian law in my view has been broken.”

She said a truce that could be turned into a lasting ceasefire should be pursued, rather than a focus on the eradication of Hamas.

“Hamas is an ideology which recruits into its membership,” said Ms Kearns, the chairwoman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Bombs don’t obliterate an ideology and neither can a stable state be constructed from oblivion.”

The interventions by Ms Kearns and Mr Wallace, who was defence secretary under three prime ministers until August, comes amid growing international pressure over the scale of civilian casualties.

Asked for his response to Mr Wallace’s article, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stressed that Israel had the right to defend itself “against what was an appalling terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas”.

“But it must do that in accordance with humanitarian law. It’s clear that too many civilian lives have been lost and nobody wants to see this conflict go on a day longer than it has to,” he told reporters during a visit to Scotland.

“That’s why we’ve been consistent…in calling for a sustainable ceasefire, whereby hostages are released, rockets stop being fired into Israel by Hamas and we continue to get more aid in.”

Mr Wallace said he was not calling for a ceasefire with Hamas, but warned Israel needed to stop its “crude and indiscriminate method of attack” in the Gaza Strip.

He said he believed the tactics of Mr Netanyahu would “fuel the conflict for another 50 years”.

“His actions are radicalising Muslim youth across the globe,” he added.

An estimated 240 people were taken hostage from Israel by Hamas and despite some hostages being returned during a temporary truce, about 120 people are believed to still be held in the Gaza Strip.

Mr Netanyahu has said “military pressure is necessary both for the return of hostages and for victory”.

Last week, he said Israel would continue “to the end” despite international pressure.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza more than 18,000 people have been killed since Israel launched its retaliatory campaign.

In response to the former defence secretary’s remarks, Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy told the BBC Mr Wallace’s choice of words were “unfortunate language”.

He said Israel was targeting those who carried out the 7 October attack and was putting in place “unprecedented measures to get civilians out of harm’s way”.

“What will radicalise a new generation is if the terrorists who burned people alive, and tortured children in front of their parents, and raped Israeli women and girls, literally get away with murder,” Mr Levy said.

However, Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian mission to the UK, accused the Israeli army of normalising “the mass murder of children, [and] women” and “the mass destruction of hospitals, schools, churches, mosques”.

‘Recruiting sergeant’

A two-state solution – which is supported by the UK government and other international powers – would see Israel and the Palestinians live peacefully in separate states.

In his article Mr Wallace described lessons learnt from the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and wrote that actions such as internment “taught us that a disproportionate response by the state can serve as a terrorist organisation’s best recruiting sergeant”.

An opinion poll carried out between 22 November and 2 December by a respected Palestinian think-tank, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), found that support for Hamas had more than tripled in the occupied West Bank compared to three months ago.

Supporters of Hamas were still in a minority, but 70% of the respondents said armed struggle was the best means of ending the Israeli occupation.

courtesy bbc