Remains of a car hit by IAF airstrike in Gaza
Remains of a car hit by IAF airstrike in Gaza Reuters

Israel’s actions in Gaza are war crimes and Gaza is a ghetto whose residents can't escape bombings, says John Prescott, who was Deputy Prime Minister of Britain from 1997 to 2007, under Tony Blair.

Any other country “which blasted a hospital, shelled and killed children from a gunboat as they played football on the beach and was responsible for 1,000 deaths, at least 165 of them children, in just two weeks,” he argues in The Mirror, would be branded a pariah state, condemned by the United Nations, the US and the UK” – but these howls of protest are muted, because this is Israel.

The military action “supposedly targeting Hamas” is so “brutally disproportionate and so grossly indiscriminate that it makes it impossible not to view Israel’s actions as war crimes,” Prescott opines.

Prescott claims that Israeli casualties are relatively low, compared with the 1,000-plus who were killed in Gaza, of which he says “more than 80 per cent were civilians, mostly women and children.”

He goes further, asking “who is to say some of the other 20 per cent weren’t innocent too? Israel brands them terrorists but it is acting as judge, jury and executioner in the concentration camp that is Gaza.”

"What happened to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis is appalling,” admits Prescott, “But you would think those atrocities would give Israelis a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto.”

The fact that Israel warns civilians of impending strikes does not convince Prescott that they are being used as human shields. He repeats the claim that Gaza is so crowded that people have nowhere to escape to. “When Israel is blasting hospitals and even UN schools acting as shelters, where exactly is it safe to flee to?”

He calls to “force Israel to end the blockade on Gaza” and to impose a freeze on “illegal settlement growth.” 

Finally, he adds: "We should support a phased approach to end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem within a reasonable timeframe. The EU should play a bigger role in supporting ­mediation and push for ­sanctions for non-compliance."

Interestingly, Prescott did not favor military action against Syria, despite the much larger death toll there. When his former boss Blair made statements favoring such intervention, Prescott suggested Blair was too obsessed with Iraq-style interventions. "I've always respected Tony Blair but he's wrong on Syria... Tony seems to have become a champion for regime change," he tweeted on September 6, 2013.