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‘Israel has a right to defend itself, ’ says James Cleverly

·2-min read

A UK Foreign Office minister on Thursday said “Israel has a right to defend itself” as he called on Hamas to cease firing rockets.

James Cleverly described the scenes as “heart-breaking” and called on both sides to de-escalate. At least 67 people are said to have been killed in Gaza and a further seven people in Israel.

Hamas militants have launched scores of rockets at Israel after Israeli air strikes killed senior commanders. The escalating conflict has also triggered street violence in Israel between Jews and Israeli Arabs.

Mr Cleverly said the “only way” to minimise civilian casualties was for the weapons to stop, telling BBC Breakfast: “We are calling on Hamas to stop their indiscriminate rocket attacks.”

The Minister for Middle East and North Africa also told Sky News: “It is important for both sides to take a step back. We have seen however an unprecedented level of rocket attacks into Israel.

“As President Biden said…Israel has the right to defend itself. We’ve always said that in doing so they must seek to minimise civilian casualties.”

Foreign office minister James CleverlyAFP via Getty Images
Foreign office minister James CleverlyAFP via Getty Images

He added: “We should recognise that the rockets being fired from Gaza…that came before Israel’s response in terms of attacking targets in Gaza.

“Israel has a right to defend itself. But we expect that in doing so they abide by international humanitarian law, that they minimise civilian casualties and they act proportionately.”

He later told LBC: “We have got to remember that the military wing of Hamas, which is firing these rockets, is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK.

"There is no legitimate reason for these rockets to be fired, and we have demanded that they cease doing that.

"We recognise that Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself but must do so proportionately."

He said that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had spoken with foreign ministers of both the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Mr Cleverly also said a two-state solution to the conflict could only be advanced once the current violence ends.

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