Britain’s most influential Jewish organisation has blamed Hamas for Israel’s massacre of scores of Palestinians this week.
In a statement reacting to the killing of at least 60 protestors in Gaza, including children and journalists, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said Israel was only defending itself against violent attempts at mass invasion.
Hamas, which governs Gaza, is not thought to be the main organiser protests at Gaza’s border fence and none of the protestors had lethal weaponry on them.
Israel’s use of live fire against protestors who were not posing a lethal threat has been condemned internationally, even by many of Israel’s allies.
The statement by President Jonathan Arkush and President-Elect Marie van der Zyl said: “We are profoundly anguished at the violent scenes and loss of life at the Israel-Gaza border. No state could allow its borders to be breached by those who openly wish harm to its civilians. Israel is defending its people from repeated violent attempts at mass invasion.
“The responsibility for the violence lies with Hamas, a terrorist organisation with the explicit stated aim of murdering Israeli civilians and the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel.
“Hamas is cynical in the use of its population – including children – to join known terrorists in violent attempts to break through the border and kill Israeli citizens.
“We call on Hamas to turn instead to a path of peace with Israel that could bring an end to the tragic conflict and offer a better future for all Palestinians and Israelis alike.”
Although the Board of Deputies is recognised as the most representative Jewish organisation in the UK, the statement was immediately condemned on social media by many British Jews.
Earlier, Jewish Voice for Labour said it was appalled at the massacre of dozens of Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and the wounding of thousands by Israeli snipers using live fire and expanding bullets.
JVL said: “We condemn the attempts of Israel and its supporters to place the blame on Hamas and away from the Israeli soldiers who carried out the shooting and their commanders. It compounds murder with the insult of denying the agency of Gazans driven to risk death by the nature of the Israeli siege and the wrecking of their lives.
“We believe that these protesters – many of them refugees from areas inside the state of Israel – have the right to return to their homes and lands. We call for an immediate end to the slaughter, for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories, for an end to all discrimination inside Israel, and for progress towards a just and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis.”