Jeremy Corbyn refuses to condemn Hamas after militant group carries out deadly attack on Israel

Jeremy Corbyn has refused to condemn Hamas after militants stormed settlements in southern Israel, killing and taking hostage both soldiers and civilians in a surprise attack.

The former Labour leader said “all attacks are wrong” and repeated his call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. “Which, of course, is fundamentally the background to the whole issue,” Mr Corbyn said.

I don’t support any attacks, therefore I criticise them all,” he added.

However, asked by ITV News, Mr Corbyn stopped short of directly condemning the terrorist group he previously called “friends” – comments he later said he regretted.

It comes on the opening day of Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, taking place against a backdrop of fighting between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants.

Mr Corbyn issued a statement on Saturday describing the events in Israel as “deeply alarming”.

“We need an immediate ceasefire and urgent de-escalation,” he said. And he called for Israel to end its occupation of Palestine as “the only means of achieving a just and lasting peace”.

“We need a route out of this tragic cycle of violence,” Mr Corbyn said.

Former Labour MP Ian Austin said his statement was “disgraceful”. “Hamas terrorists are slaughtering people in the streets, kidnapping civilians and firing rockets indiscriminately at cities,” he said.

The conflict threatens to reignite old rows with the left wing of the Labour party at its annual conference this week.

Putting clear blue water between himself and the Labour left, Sir Keir Starmer said there is “no justification” for the “appalling” attack on Israel. He told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: “The perpetrators of this have deliberately pushed back the prospect of peace agreements.”

And Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy condemned Hamas as a terrorist organisation at a separate event at the conference. Mr Lammy said: “I don’t mince my words. I’m a lawyer by trade. Hamas is a terrorist organisation.”

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said UK police should investigate those celebrating Hamas attacks on Israel in Britain for potential hate crimes.

Mr Streeting said: “People celebrating on the streets of London, and elsewhere in the UK, have got to ask themselves, where is their humanity?”

Home secretary Suella Braverman also weighed in, saying she expects the police to “use the full force of the law” against displays of support for the Palestinian militants after videos emerged of people celebrating the kidnappings and killings.

On Saturday morning, Palestinian militants breached the heavily fortified border from Gaza and poured into nearby settlements, killing and taking hostage both soldiers and civilians in an unprecedented attack.

Attacks included Hamas storming a music festival and seizing partygoers, including British citizen Jacob Marlowe, as hostages. The death toll for Israelis has risen to almost 600, several local media outlets have reported including The Times of Israel and Haaretz.

Vowing brutal retaliation, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared the country to be at war and vowed to turn Hamas sites to rubble – warning Palestinians they should leave besieged Gaza, despite them being unable to do so.

Gaza health authorities reported 370 fatalities, as relentless Israeli strikes continued overnight. Israel’s military claimed on Sunday to have killed more than 400 Hamas gunmen as battles continued to dislodge and root out militants from eight settlements within Israel.

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