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Steve Coogan condemns Hamas 'terrorist attacks' after signing heavily criticised open letter

Steve Coogan has condemned Hamas's "terrorist attacks on Israel" - after signing an open letter that made no direct mention of the group's brutal incursion into Israel earlier this month.

Coogan said it "goes without saying that what Hamas did is evil beyond imagination - it was horrific and brutal".

However, he said it was "no way inconsistent" to "express grave concern for the lives and welfare of innocent Palestinian civilians" at the same time.

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The letter, issued by Artists For Palestine UK, and also signed by Tilda Swinton, Charles Dance, Miriam Margolyes and Maxine Peak, among more than 2,000 others, demanded that governments "end their military and political support for Israel's actions".

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It also spoke of governments "not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them".

Hamas - which, according to Israel, killed babies, murdered more than 200 people at a music festival, and took more than 200 others hostage, including children and the elderly - was not mentioned.

The letter did, however, condemn "every act of violence against civilians and every infringement of international law, whoever perpetrates them".

Coogan said: "I do of course condemn the recent Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel; their deliberate murder of civilians and their taking of hostages.

"All right-thinking people do."

He added: "The Jewish people have been uniquely the target of hate and prejudice for millennia and anyone who cares about human rights should be vigilant and call it out when they encounter it.

"It goes without saying that what Hamas did is evil beyond imagination. It was horrific and brutal.

"It is in no way inconsistent with condemnation of the Hamas atrocity to express grave concern for the lives and welfare of innocent Palestinian civilians facing a humanitarian disaster, deprived of food, water, medicine, fuel and shelter."

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Outlander star Sam Heughan said he "inadvertently" signed the letter and it does not reflect his "beliefs".

Posting on X, formerly Twitter, Heughan said: "I believed it was a simple call for peace... It wasn't.

"I condemn violence in any form. I stand against terrorism and evil and am heartbroken and appalled by the recent horrific actions by Hamas.

"It's haunting to the core - my heart goes out to all affected.

"I don't know nearly enough and (I am) trying to educate myself on the conflicts in the Middle East.

"I feel helpless and wish I could help in some way. I pray for compassion, for all the innocent people affected."