Gaza border violence

I was shocked and appalled by the violence that we saw occur around protests on the Gaza border. Israel of course has the right to secure its borders. However, the loss of life and large number of Palestinians injured is extremely worrying. I am particularly concerned about the volume of live fire that was used by Israeli forces.

I also understand though that there are strong concerns about the role that non-state actors such as Hamas played in instigating the violence and exploiting the protests.

All parties must commit to respecting peaceful protest, showing restraint and following international law. There is a clearly a need to establish the full facts around the events on the Gaza border and that is why I back calls for an independent and transparent investigation.

I welcome the UN Human Rights Council’s recent decision to dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate the violence. I know that an investigation has also been launched by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) into the conduct of its troops on the Gaza border.

Terrible events such as these remind us of the pressing need to work towards the two-state solution that we all want to see: a secure Israel living in peace alongside a viable state of Palestine and an end to the senseless cycle of violence.

I continue to be concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza. What is undeniable is the terrible suffering that many Palestinian people are experiencing and the need for a humanitarian intervention. The blockade of Gaza undermines basic human rights and economic prospects, as well as the availability of essential services. I believe that these restrictions should be lifted and I hope the Government will urge the Israeli authorities to go much further in easing them.

This will require both sides – and the international community as a whole – to come together as a matter of urgency. It will also require both sides avoiding actions that put the two-state solution at risk and make peace harder to achieve. That must mean an end to the blockade of Gaza and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. It must also mean an end to terror attacks and incitement.

I will follow the situation in Gaza closely.