FOREIGN Office ministers failed to condemn Israel’s murderous Gaza onslaught yesterday despite a growing outcry against the mass slaughter.
MPs and trade unionists issued urgent calls to the British government to denounce Israel’s relentless attacks on innocent civilians.
Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood angered MPs when he kept insisting that Israel had “a right to defend itself” against rocket attacks from Gaza.
“We are equally clear that Israel’s response must be proportionate,” he declared lamely.
Labour shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander challenged the minister directly to express opposition to the ground invasion of Gaza.
Mr Ellwood ducked the challenge, contenting himself with expressing concern at over 600 Palestinian deaths, 3,600 injuries and 83,000 people displaced.
Mr Alexander condemned the minister for his “troubling” failure to oppose the invasion.
Lib Dem MP Bob Russell declared bluntly that if the minister had ordered British troops to fire on civilian communities as the Israelis had done “he would be guilty of a war crime.”
Labour MP Andy McDonald expressed horror at the murder of four Palestinian boys playing on a beach.
Mr McDonald met a parliamentary brick wall when he demanded: “Will the minister condemn the murderous behaviour of Israel as completely disproportionate and a crime against humanity?”
Tory MP Richard Ottoway sparked some cries of “hear, hear” from the government benches when he said it was “quite understandable” that Israel was seeking to protect its own civilians by finding tunnels hidden beneath Gaza homes and mosques.
Newcastle Labour MP Chi Onwurah spoke of a “mounting sense of outrage” across Britain over the “terrible suffering” of the Palestinians. She told of receiving hundreds of e-mails and letters.
Ms Onwurah remarked: “The BBC seems to have missed it, but 100,000 people marched through London on Saturday.”
The Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, comprising 10 trade unions with over one million members, demanded that the Israeli government must be held to account.
Public service union PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We urge people to support the fight for justice for Palestinians and campaign for a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions.”
Teaching union NUT general secretary Christine Blower spoke of her “increasing horror at the killing and destruction.”
She urged NUT members to contact their MPs and demand an end to collective punishment of Palestinians.