Last weekend, Hamas launched a terrorist attack deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. Over 1,400 people were murdered: babies massacred, Holocaust survivors shot dead and entire families tortured and killed. Hamas seized 200 Israeli hostages, including women, children and people with disabilities.
The terror attacks represent the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. By proportion of population it is the worst terrorist attack of the 21st century, with deaths outstripping 9/11, the New Zealand mosque attacks and the Madrid train bombings.
At home, there has been a 500% rise in antisemitic incidents, security at Jewish venues has been increased and Jewish schools forced to close. On the streets of British cities, demonstrators have glorified the attacks, chanted genocidal slogans and expressed their support for Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation.
Hamas is an antisemitic terrorist organisation which seeks to destroy Israel and murder Jews. It opposes any negotiation with Israel, launched a wave of terror attacks in response to the Oslo process, and has been planning this attack for months – boasting that it sought to fool Israel into thinking it was interested in economic measures to address the plight of the people of Gaza.
Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. There were no Israeli troops in the Strip and the Israeli government forcibly removed settlers when it handed the territory over to the Palestinian Authority. In 2007, Hamas launched a bloody coup against the PA. It established a brutal Islamist regime with widespread human rights abuses.
In response to the terror threat represented by Hamas, Israel and Egypt imposed tight security measures. Nonetheless, Hamas has regularly launched indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli villages, towns and cities.
Hamas is the greatest threat to the Palestinian people, it does not represent them or their right to dignity and self-determination. Instead, it chooses to hide behind innocent Gazans, using their homes, schools and hospitals as sites for rocket launches and other terrorist infrastructure.
Israeli governments have repeatedly offered to assist with the economic revitalisation of Gaza and ease restrictions if Hamas stops terror attacks. Hamas has refused these offers and despite the humanitarian situation in Gaza invested millions in acquiring weapons and building terror tunnels into Israel.
Hamas is supported and funded by Iran, like fellow terror group Hezbollah. Iran seeks the destruction of Israel and to acquire regional hegemony. Iran is determined to disrupt the Abraham Accords and the normalisation process between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Israel must eliminate the terror threat posed by Hamas to its people. Israel has made clear it has no desire to reoccupy Gaza. We support the removal of Hamas and the return of Gaza to the authority of the Palestinian Authority.
The international community must pressure Hamas’ allies to force it to immediately release without condition the 200 Israeli hostages – including 10 British nationals – it seized.
The loss of innocent Palestinian life in Gaza – as in Israel – is tragic. Israel, like any democracy engaged in conflict, has a responsibility to minimise civilian casualties. We deplore Hamas’ use of innocent Palestinians as human shields. In line with international law, we support measures to protect Palestinian civilians and the Biden administration’s efforts to provide humanitarian assistance – including food, water and medicine – and safe routes.
The rise in antisemitism and glorification of Hamas terrorism on the streets of Britain is shameful. We urge immediate action to protect the Jewish community and ensure those who commit hate crimes and express support for proscribed terror groups face the full force of the law.
We recognise the nefarious role of Tehran in supporting and funding Hamas and Hezbollah. We support the immediate proscription of Iran’s ideological terror army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Hamas’ barbaric actions have set back the cause of peace immeasurably. However difficult, a path to a Palestinian state – alongside a safe and secure Israel – must remain our goal, beginning with steps to promote peace, reconciliation and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.