Statement following recent terrorist attacks on Israel
Like many of my constituents, I’ve been repulsed by the abhorrent acts of evil perpetrated by Hamas terrorists against innocent Israelis. Its timing on Shabbat, during Simchat Torah, is further evidence of the scale of intent and barbarity of an invasion which resulted in the largest number of deaths amongst Jews since the Holocaust. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was right to call out this depravity for what it was – a pogrom.
I don’t understand how anyone could seriously suggest that Israel should not have the right to defend itself and its citizens following an attack that left thousands murdered, raped and mutilated, with civilians - including British nationals - taken hostage and killed. Reports of decapitated Jewish babies will be something few of us will ever forget.
The Israeli government is defending its citizens, whereas Hamas uses civilians as its defence. Since Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, including a majority of votes in Gaza, the terrorist group has built a network of assets, often in community buildings such as schools and hospitals, from which to launch attacks on Israel. Recent reports suggest attempts by Western nations to deliver humanitarian aid to the region have been abused by Hamas, with $100 million worth of freshwater pipes delivered by taxpayers within the European Union dug up and used to make rockets to be fired into Israel.
This week, alongside desperate pleas from constituents who have family in Israel, I’ve also received emails from some who have criticised Israel for defending its citizens.
We seem to be in a situation yet again where the questions asked are not of Hamas’s conduct but whether Israel’s right to defend itself is proportional. I wonder what an acceptable proportional response to the decapitation of babies, the rape of women and children, or the slaying of civilians would be? Are we to say that no action should be taken, or that a response would only be proportional if the death count is the same in retaliation? I wonder why those who object to Israel’s defensive action did not contact me last week when Hamas terrorists crossed into Israeli communities, executing men and raping women and children, or – sickeningly – when Hamas terrorists beheaded Israeli babies? Why did I hear nothing when Hamas terrorists burned Israeli children, or when Hamas terrorists declared a global Jihad, encouraging their followers here in the UK and across the West to attack all Jews?
For the first time, we have seen schools in Britain deciding to close for fear of attacks from supporters of a proscribed terrorist organisation. It is simply unacceptable that members of the Jewish community in my constituency now fear reprisals because of Hamas’s attack on Israel. I simply cannot imagine the torment felt by my constituents when days after Hamas butchered innocent civilians just for being Jewish, they had to witness thousands marching in London against action taken by the Israeli government to eradicate the terrorists who murdered their kin.
We should all seek to avoid war, but when you’re confronted with the animal-like barbarism of Hamas, meeting might with might is the only language they understand. They are the friends of few and the foe of many.
I stand with Israel and its right to defend itself, and I stand with the Jewish community in my constituency during what has been a harrowing time for many. The duty now falls upon leaders in the international community to do what they can to mitigate the effects of war and to suppress the desire of hostile actors to exploit instability in the region. I welcome the deployment of UK military surveillance, as well as a collective commitment to upholding international law and using aspects of diplomacy to try to deliver humanitarian aid through corridors with neighbouring Arab countries.
The Rt Hon. Alec Shelbrooke, M.P.
Conservative Member of Parliament for Elmet & Rothwell
Leader of the UK Delegation to the NATO Assembly