Prescott accuses Israel of ‘war crime’

Lord John Prescott has condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
Lord John Prescott has condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
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Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is “brutally disproportionate and grossly indiscriminate” and must be regarded as a war crime, the former Labour deputy prime minister John Prescott has said.

Any other country would be made an international “pariah” if it acted in the same way, Lord Prescott said, and he directly compared the situation in Gaza with a concentration camp, suggesting the Nazi Holocaust should “give Israelis a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto”.

“Imagine a country claiming the lives of nearly three times as many as were lost in the MH17 plane tragedy in less than three weeks,” the former Hull MP wrote in the Sunday Mirror.

“A nation which blasted a hospital, shelled and killed children from a gunboat as they played football on the beach and was responsible for 1,000 deaths, at least 165 of them children, in just two weeks.

“Surely it would be branded a pariah state, condemned by the United Nations, the US and the UK. The calls for regime change would be -deafening.

“But these howls of protest are muted. The condemnation softened. For this is Israel.”

The 20-day war has killed more than 1,060 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to Palestinian health officials. Israel has lost 43 soldiers, while two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel were killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he realises world opinion might be shifting away from his nation with every Palestinian civilian’s death, but adds that the public relations battle cannot supersede Israel’s security.

Mr Netanyahu told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday that Hamas is using Palestinian civilians for what he calls “human shields” against Israel’s military campaign into Gaza.

He said his nation’s efforts to secure itself will not yield despite growing concern about deaths at the hands of Israel’s lethal force.

The military had earlier said about a dozen rockets were fired toward Israel since midnight on Saturday without causing casualties or damage and that as a result it would “resume its aerial, naval and ground activity in the Gaza Strip.” The Israeli military released a video showing a rocket being fired from what it said was a Gaza school.

“The military is aiming its fire at terror sites, but if citizens are accidently harmed Hamas is responsible for this since it once again violated an offer for a humanitarian lull that Israel accepted,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

A 12-hour lull on Saturday, agreed to by both sides following US and UN mediation efforts, saw Palestinians return to war torn neighbourhoods and allowed medics to collect close to 150 bodies, a Palestinian health official said. The Israeli military said it is doing its utmost to prevent civilian casualties, including by sending evacuation warnings to residents in targeted areas.