It may seem like a world away. But the present conflict in Gaza should concern us all. In the week we commemorate the start of World War One, it’s a powerful reminder of how armed struggle is not merely a twentieth century phenomenon.
The firing of rockets into Israel by Gaza based militants cannot be justified. But in their most recent assessment of this present conflict, the UN estimate that at lease two-thirds of Palestinians injured or killed in Gaza have been civilians. Indeed, one in four is a child.
No right minded person can fail to be angered by the scenes of destruction in the modern day prison camp of Gaza over the past month. It is why I have been clear: the Israeli incursion into Gaza is both wrong and unjustifiable.
It is wrong because despite the history of provocation from Hamas, it has led to the killing of so many innocent men, women and children. It will fail to act as a deterrent or as a solution for rocket attacks precisely because it will recruit of a whole new generation of Palestinians to the cause of Hamas.
As Ed Miliband has rightly said, the Prime Minister is wrong not to have opposed Israel’s incursion into Gaza. I believe that his silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel’s military action will be inexplicable to people across the UK.
That is why, when this conflict first reawakened into violence, I first wrote to both the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to urge them in the strongest of terms to push for immediate ceasefire and to condemn the disproportionate action by Israel.
That is why I challenged the Prime Minister directly about the legality of Israeli action in the House of Commons.
Through my work as Shadow International Development Minister, with responsibility for the region, I work to hold our government to account for their actions in this conflict. Indeed I had hoped to travel to the region last month, but this trip has had to be delayed until later in the year due to the deteriorating security situation.
This has been an awful month in the middle east. At some point it will close in ceasefire. But the anger felt at long running injustices must be met with a commitment to peacemaking from all, including in our town.