Theresa Villiers has issued the following statement on her support for Israel as it defends its land and its citizens from Hamas terrorism:
"The 7th October terrorist attacks by Hamas were horrifying. I utterly condemn these atrocities. My thoughts are with those affected, especially the families of those who have been murdered, injured or kidnapped.
These killings are vile and abhorrent. Hamas terrorists have murdered innocent civilians. Even babies, children and the elderly have been targeted. This carnage is truly shocking and Hamas even chose to film themselves carrying out these atrocities.
This was the worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust.
I strongly support Israel's right to defend itself and its citizens. I have publicly expressed my backing for the action Israel needs to take to ensure Hamas never again has the capacity to carry out the acts of evil it perpetrated in southern Israel on 7th October.
I was among over 300 Parliamentarians to sign a letter, coordinated by the All Party Britain Israel Group, condemning the Hamas attacks.
Since the crisis began, I have visited a number of shuls in my constituency to show my support for the Jewish community and express my unequivocal backing for Israel’s right to defend its land and its citizens. That included attending the annual event of North London Friends of Israel to hear barrister Natasha Hausdorff challenge false allegations by the left that Israel is violating international law.
I was with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when he visited a Jewish school in my constituency to show his solidarity with the community and make clear his utter condemnation of the deeply worrying rise in antisemitic hate crimes. I had a further chance to discuss the crisis with him when he invited representatives of Conservative Friends of Israel to 10 Downing Street.
I have spoken on the conflict several times in Parliament. That includes urging the PM to maintain the UK’s support for Israel in the difficult days ahead. I also appealed to him to ensure that an investigation is carried out into reports that an individual with links to Hamas was given a council house in Colindale.
I was one of the lead signatories on a letter sent by the Board of Deputies to the BBC complaining about the corporation’s refusal to describe Hamas as terrorists. In Parliament, I condemned media outlets who blamed Israel for the explosion near the Al Ahli hospital without waiting for the facts to be established. Both the UK and US governments have confirmed that they share the view of the IDF that the incident was caused by a misfired rocket from Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
I have been present a number of briefings in Parliament with the Israeli Ambassador, HE Tzipi Hotovely. That has included hearing directly from relatives of the victims of the Hamas attack. They spoke to MPs about the grief which they feel for loved ones kidnapped or killed by Hamas. It was one of the most moving events I have ever been part of in Parliament.
I spoke out strongly in the House of Commons in support of the Bill to ban BDS boycotts by universities and councils. I used that as an opportunity to publicly condemn those who accuse Israel of war crimes without justification saying:
“I am in no doubt that the Israeli Defence Forces are making, and will continue to make, the greatest efforts possible to prevent civilian loss of life. Israel is one of the most democratic countries in the world, and it respects the rule of law. I am certain that its democratic and legal institutions will hold its armed forces rigorously to account. Those on the Labour Benches who line up to casually, and wrongly, accuse Israel of war crimes should check their facts, not rush to judgment.”
The rise in antisemitic hate crime which has taken place since 7th October is appalling. I know that this is causing great anxiety and insecurity in the Jewish community. It is completely unacceptable that any group should feel they need to hide their ethnic and faith identity because they fear that they will be attacked.
The antisemitic chants and displays at recent protests are sickening. I have reported a number of incidents to the police, urging them to take a tough line on hate crime and stressed the importance of providing reassurance patrols to secure the safety of the Jewish community.
Yesterday evening joined a call with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Sir Mark Rowley, to reiterate the vital importance of bringing to justice those responsible for antisemitic activity, including people shouting “from the river to the sea”, an antisemitic slogan denying the right of Israel to exist.
The UK Government is clear that there is no place for antisemitism or the glorification of terrorism on the streets of Britain. This has been reiterated by the Prime Minister at the despatch box in Parliament. Both he and the Home Secretary expect the police to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Hamas, or other proscribed terrorist groups.
I have a track record going back 20 years of campaigning against antisemitism (including co-authoring a ground-breaking report on this issue from the APPG Against Antisemitism in 2006). I shall continue to speak out against this pernicious form of hatred and division.
I fully understand the concern felt about the plight of civilians in Gaza, who have been put in harm’s way by Hamas using them as human shields. I recognise the importance of getting humanitarian aid to the civilian population (so long as none of it can be misused by Hamas). I know that UK Ministers continue to work with international partners and the Israeli Government to try to increase the flow of supplies.
We must all stand in solidarity with Israel in its hour of need. Prime Minister Sunak has repeatedly confirmed that the UK will do this. I will continue to speak up for Israel and support its right to take military action against Hamas. I am also calling on the UK Government to do all it can to help Israel bring the hostages home.
Imprint: Promoted by Theresa Villiers MP of 163 High Street, Barnet, EN5 5SU.