British Prime Minister Calls Gaza a "Prisoner Camp"
Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth says British Jews “dismayed” by comments.
According to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, British Jews were “dismayed” by Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments regarding the Gaza Strip. On July 27, Cameron met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, where the two held a press conference in which Cameron referred to Gaza as “a prisoner camp.”
“Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp,” said Cameron. Residents of Gaza claim to be suffering, due to an Israeli blockade that was implemented when Hamas took control of the territory in 2006. The blockade is designed to stop deadly weapons from reaching Hamas.
“The people of Gaza are the prisoners of the terrorist organization Hamas,” said Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to Britain. “The situation in Gaza is the direct result of Hamas’ rule and priorities.” Prosor also pointed out the hypocrisy of Cameron’s remarks. “We know that the prime minister would also share our grave concerns about our own prisoner in the Gaza Strip, Gilad Shalit, who has been held hostage there for over four years, without receiving a single Red Cross visit,” he said.
According to The Guardian, Cameron’s statements were also criticized by a leading pro-Israel group from his own political camp. “In calling Gaza a prison camp, [Cameron] has failed to address Hamas’s role in creating the Gaza we see today,” said Stuart Polak, director of the Conservative Friends of Israel.
During a Shabbat sermon at St. John’s Wood synagogue this past Saturday, Chief Rabbi Sacks urged the Prime Minister to maintain “balance” when discussing the Middle East. “In a wide ranging sermon, the chief rabbi made a passing reference to the dismay many in the Jewish community and far beyond feel about the prime minister’s comments on Gaza,” said Sacks’ spokeswoman, according to The Telegraph. “The chief rabbi emphasized the importance that previous prime ministers have always placed on displaying balance, even when being forthright.”