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Prime Minister “deeply troubled” by loss of life in Gaza

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Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry condemned yesterday what she called a “horrific massacre” and “vicious slaughter” during an urgent question debate on Monday’s events in Gaza in the House of Commons.

She said that Monday’s events were the result of “an apparently calculated and deliberate policy to kill and maim unarmed protesters, who posed no threat to the forces on the Gaza border. Many of them, shot in the back. Many of them, shot hundreds of metres from the border, and many of them, children”.

Thornberry asked the Government to not just take the initiative in support of a UN Security Council (UNSC) statement but also to help draft a new statement that calls for an urgent independent investigation into the violence in Gaza to assess whether international law has been broken and to hold those responsible to account.

She called on the Government to “bring urgent and concerted international pressure on the Netanyahu government to lift the illegal blockade on Gaza and comply with all the UN resolutions ordering them to remove their illegal settlements and illegal occupation of Palestinian territory”.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said there should be an investigation to “urgently establish the facts of what happened,” adding that “our team at the UN are at work with others to find the right formula”.

Burt asked why Thornberry had not mentioned “any possible complicit involvement of Hamas” in her question. “If we are to look at the circumstances we need to take Hamas’s involvement in the protests into account,” he said, adding that “it is very easy and very tempting to take one side or the other”.

“We are clear that unless there is a political solution to this … we will not resolve this”.

At a press conference at Downing Street following talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that while the Palestinians had a legitimate right to protest, she was concerned about extremist infiltration and the role Hamas had played.

She also said that Israel had a right to defend its borders, but that “the use of live fire and the resultant loss of life is deeply troubling,” and urged greater restraint, adding that “it is in everyone’s interest for peace to prevail in Israel and the Occupied Territories”.