David Cameron says Israel was right to defend itself over Gaza attacks last year

PM said there was an 'important' difference between Israel's right to defend itself and the 'indiscriminate' attacks by Hamas

Israeli President Shimon Peres stands next British Prime Minister David Cameron as he signs the guestbook during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential compound in Jerusalem on March 12, 2014.
Israeli President Shimon Peres stands next British Prime Minister David Cameron as he signs the guestbook during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential compound in Jerusalem on March 12, 2014.

Israel was right to defend itself in the face of "indiscriminate" attacks in Gaza last summer, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister insisted it was "important to speak out" about standing by Israel and said there was an "important difference" between Israel's use of weapons to defend itself and Hamas' use of them "to defend its weapons".

Last summer Ed Miliband criticised Mr Cameron over his slow response in condemning Israeli strikes on civilian targets in Gaza, describing the Prime Minister's "silence" as "inexplicable".

It was reported that the Conservatives withstood pressure from their junior Coalition partners to speak out about the attacks for weeks.

The Prime Minister only spoke out against Israel after its strikes on civilian targets killed more than 1,800 people.

Today, in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Mr Cameron said: “What I’ve seen is the attacks that take place on Israel and the indiscriminate nature of them.

David Cameron was criticised for his delay in condemning Israel for its attacks in Gaza last summer

"As PM, putting yourself in the shoes of the Israeli people, who want peace but have to put up with these indiscriminate attacks - that reinforces to me the importance of standing by Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself.

“I feel very strongly that this equivalence that sometimes people try to draw when these attacks take place is so completely wrong and unfair.

"Because Israel is trying defend against indiscriminate attacks, while trying to stop the attackers – and there’s such a difference between that and the nature of the indiscriminate attacks that Israel receives. I feel that very clearly. I’ve seen it very clearly as Prime Minister and I think it’s important to speak out about it.

“Obviously we regret the loss of life wherever it takes place, but I do think there’s an important difference – as Prime Minister Netanyahu put it: Israel uses its weapons to defend its people and Hamas uses its people to defend its weapons."

Mr Cameron's stance on the Gaza conflict led to the resignation of Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, who said the Government's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been "morally indefensible and not "in Britain's national interest".

Last week Mr Cameron said he would be "heartbroken" if Jewish people though that Britain was no longer a safe place for them, amid signs of increasing anti-semitism.

In an interview with The Atlantic, he said Israel was at risk from an "insidious, creeping attempt" to undermine it as a state.

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