British MP Apologizes for Tweet Supporting Hamas Rocket Attacks
A British lawmaker apologized Wednesday after tweeting that he would likely fire rockets into Israel if he lived in Gaza.
"The big question is -- if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? -- probably yes," Liberal Democrat member of parliament David Ward said on Twitter.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews called on Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, to suspend Ward once again from the junior party in Britain's governing coalition.
Ward has previously been suspended from the party following remarks about Israel and the Jews.
The Liberal Democrats condemned his tweet and said that given what it called a "categorical apology" from Ward, a meeting would be held between the chief whip and the MP.
The party will then decide if further disciplinary action should be taken.
Ward had followed up his initial tweet with another saying: "Ich bin ein Palestinian -- the West must make up its mind -- which side is it on?"
After facing criticism from across the political spectrum over his rockets tweet, and telling the BBC he understood the mindset of people in Gaza - and that Hamas is using civilians as human shields because, in his words, "they are absolutely desperate and politicians in the West are failing them," - the MP issued a statement saying: "I utterly condemn the violence on both sides in Israel and Gaza."
"I condemn the actions of Hamas, and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologize," he said.
"However, while I defend the right of Israel to exist and defend itself, I will continue to speak out for the rights of the Palestinian people who are facing untold suffering," he continued. "I can understand their plight and desperation."
Ward may have folded after the backlash in order to keep his political position intact as party officials grow increasingly frustrated at his inflammatory rhetoric.
In July of last year he posted a tweet claiming "the Zionists are losing," branding Israel an "apartheid" state and gleefully predicting the Jewish state's demise.
The previous January he drew widespread condemnation, after accusing "the Jews" of "inflicting atrocities on Palestinians" and comparing Israel to Nazi Germany on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.