Corbyn calls Hamas ‘terrorist group’ but says Israel behind ‘acts of terror too’

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Jeremy Corbyn has described Hamas as a “terrorist group” after repeatedly avoiding the term, as he wrote an article accusing the Israeli army of being guilty of “acts of terror too”.

The former Labour leader argued that the comparison was necessary because Israel is killing thousands of children in strikes on Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’s wave of bloodshed.

Sir Keir Starmer, his successor at the top of the party, said Mr Corbyn’s “days as a Labour MP are over” after the MP repeatedly declined to call Hamas terrorists.

Mr Corbyn wrote in the left-wing Tribune magazine that “I deplore the targeting of all civilians”, including Hamas’s killing of around 1,200 people in Israel on October 7.

“If we understand terrorism to describe the indiscriminate killing of civilians, in breach of international law, then of course Hamas is a terrorist group,” he added.

“The targeting of hospitals, refugee camps and so-called safe zones by the Israeli army are acts of terror too; and the killing of more than 11,000 people, half of whom are children, cannot possibly be understood as acts of self-defence.

“We should not entertain questions from those who have no interest in applying this basic consistency.”

More than 11,400 Palestinians have been killed in the war, two-thirds of them women and minors, according to Palestinian health authorities, as Israel bombards the small strip of land which is home to more than 2.2 million people.

Mr Corbyn avoided giving a direct answer when repeatedly asked whether Hamas is a terror group by Piers Morgan in a heated exchange on his TalkTV show this week.

In his Tribune article, the Islington North MP wrote: “Ultimately, we do not just have a responsibility to end the bloodshed.

“We have a responsibility to stop bloodthirsty voices from dictating the terms of debate, and to push back against cynical attempts to distract us from our urgent goal: bringing about an immediate ceasefire.”

Mr Corbyn urged readers to understand that Palestinians “are living under occupation and a system of apartheid”, in a comparison with the Irish under British rule.

He urged political leaders to “desperately” learn the lesson of how “the endless cycle of violence for good” was broken in Northern Ireland to end the Troubles.

Sir Keir, who stripped Mr Corbyn of the whip in 2020, meaning he has been sitting as an independent since, said he was “taken aback and shocked” by his earlier refusal.

Hamas is designated as a terror group in the UK, as well as in the US and the European Union.

Sir Keir, who served in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, told The News Agents podcast: “He won’t stand as a Labour MP at the next election or any election.

“His days as a Labour MP are over. We have a changed party.”

But the Labour leader has struggled to keep his MPs and party membership united over his support of Israel, refusing to back calls for a ceasefire while urging Israel to protect civilians.