Elaborating on British Prime Minister David Cameron’s criticisms of Israel’s Gaza policies, the outgoing British Ambassador to Israel, Sir Tom Phillips, has told The Jerusalem Post that Israel needs to do more to help revive the Gaza economy, and that the Israeli blockade policy was counterproductive. “It was breeding radicalism,” he said.
Israel drove Gaza “into a Hamas-controlled tunnel economy, and the Palestinian Gaza private sector has been almost completely destroyed,” Phillips said in a farewell interview on Wednesday. “Young boys on the streets [have had] no role models apart from the Hamas guy in the black shiny uniform on the street corner.”
Added Phillips, “Although one understood all the political pressures that were leading Israel to that situation, the fact is, it was causing significant humanitarian concerns. Also it was creating, in psychological terms, another generation of people that are not going to feel that friendly about Israel.”
Phillips was speaking a day after Cameron, on a visit to Turkey, described Gaza as a “prison camp,” and insisted that “the situation in Gaza has to change.”
The prime minister also renewed British criticism of the “unacceptable” Gaza flotilla “attack.”
Cameron’s comments drew condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League, which expressed “surprise and disappointment” at what it called the British prime minister’s resort “to the same kind of inflammatory rhetoric that has been used by Israel’s enemies to describe the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”
The British Zionist Federation described his remarks as an “assault on Israel” and urged its supporters to write to their local members of Parliament to complain.
“The description of Gaza as a ‘prison camp’ is misleading,” it said, in a press release labeled “Is David Cameron a friend of Israel?” It noted: “Earlier this year a new Olympic-size swimming pool was opened in Gaza.
Last week a new shopping center was opened. Shops and stalls are brimming with goods. Fancy restaurants are flourishing. The standard of living is higher in Gaza than in Turkey.”
As for the description of Israel’s action in relation to the flotilla bound for Gaza as an “attack,” the ZF retorted: “Israeli forces boarded the boats without any intention of damaging them or injuring their passengers, but were viciously beaten with iron bars and bats, stabbed with knives, shot at with guns, thrown over the edge of the deck and had their wounds gouged out in a bestial display.”
Read more at Jerusalem Post.