Israel-Gaza conflict: Liberal Democrat MP David Ward apologises for controversial tweet

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David Ward, a Liberal Democrat MP, has been forced to apologise after suggesting that he might be ready to fire rockets into Israel if he lived in Gaza.

After refusing to say sorry, he faced losing the party whip and issued a statement saying his comments had not been intended to support Hamas' rocket attacks. "If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise,” he said.

The Bradford East MP may still be disciplined and will meet Don Foster, the Lib Dem Chief Whip, to discuss his position.

On Tuesday, Mr Ward was accused of inciting violence after he tweeted: "The big question is - if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes."

The Board of Deputies of British Jews urged Nick Clegg to withdraw the party whip from Mr Ward, whose membership was suspended for two months last year following previous outspoken remarks about Israel.

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In today's statement Mr Ward said: "I utterly condemn the violence on both sides in Israel and Gaza. I condemn the actions of Hamas, and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise."

While he defended Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, he vowed to continue to speak out for the Palestinian people “facing untold suffering” and said he understood the “plight and desperation” of families in Gaza.

A Lib Dem spokesman said: "This is a categorical apology from David Ward. In light of this apology, the party and the whips will decide in due course if further disciplinary action should be taken."