Last week our world became more dangerous, as violence and terrorism erupted in the Middle East. The terrorist attack on Israel by the Hamas group was horrific and should concern us all. In their brutal assault on Israel, Hamas have shown themselves to be murderers, kidnappers and torturers of women and children, of the elderly and disabled.
There can be no justification for Hamas and the evil that they do, any more than there was for ISIS or Al Qaeda. So it has been a real shock to receive communications, some from people here in Dover & Deal, seeking to justify the actions of Hamas. We need to be crystal clear. There can be no justification for the kidnapping, murder and torture of civilians whether by Hamas or anyone else. In the UK, Hamas is a banned terrorist group. Like ISIS, Al Qaeda and Hizballah, active support of Hamas is a criminal offence.
The Prime Minister has rightly emphasised the need to do everything that can be done to protect the lives of non-combatants in times of war. Work is underway to provide emergency humanitarian aid in Gaza. Hamas’s war will harm Palestinian people as well as Israelis. The terrible reverberations of these events are already being seen across the globe.
We in our own community and country know and have faced terrorism. We will never forget the Deal Marines who were murdered by IRA terrorists. We all remember the brutal beheading of Fusillier Lee Rigby in a London street, the Manchester Arena bombing of teenagers at a pop concert, the 7 July London bombings on the tube and bus network and the fire-bombing in Dover last year.
In Parliament, the shadow of terrorism and violence is never far away. In Parliament’s underground car park, the IRA murdered Airey Neeve in 1979. A terrorist attack saw a policeman, PC Keith Palmer, murdered defending Parliament in 2017. The brutal murders of MPs, Sir David Amess and Jo Cox, butchered at their MP surgeries, highlight that the risks are ever present.
Terrorism can never be justified. It threatens all civil societies and our way of life here and abroad. Just as we have always made every effort to take the firmest action against terrorists, so Israel will seek to do the same. Just as we would seek to recover any of our kidnapped citizens, Israel will seek to do the same.
Tragically, there had been high hopes of peaceful coexistence. For a two-state solution – Israel and Palestine no longer at war and in a state of peace. Given recent events, it is hard to see how that will happen. There is a risk that the conflict may spread. This is a sad and terrible time in the Middle East and for all those with loved ones in the region.
My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.