Could this be the conflict that finally turns the UK press against Israel?
Some of Britain's most hawkish and traditionally pro-Israel newspapers have published editorial leaders this week warning that unless the state's leaders make steps to stop the violence in Gaza, they risk losing all support from from foreign allies.
The Guardian's front page, featuring UN condemnation of an attack on sleeping children in a school where 15 were killed in an Israeli strike, was "the most retweeted front page in two years", according the Nick Sutton, the BBC producer who runs #tomorrowspaperstoday
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) July 30, 2014
But it was Thursday's Daily Mail leader which was perhaps the most striking, which began by saying it "has long admired Israel and its beleaguered and resourceful people, who have suffered appalling provocation from enemies intent on wiping their country from the map."
The Daily Mail's editorial comment on Thursday
It was this "high regard" though that prompted the Mail's editorial to condemn the latest onslaught in Gaza, saying the paper was "profoundly troubled by the scale of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bombardment".
"To put it bluntly, we expect better of the only mature democracy in the Middle East than the slaughter of innocents we have witnessed over the past fortnight," the leader read. "Yes, the Mail is well aware that Hamas has the blood of Gaza’s children on its hands, through its loathsome policy of using civilians as human shields. We know, too, that every ceasefire accepted by Israel has been broken by its enemies.
"But with more than 20 Palestinians dying for every Israeli soldier killed, how can any civilised country describe this as a proportionate response? Indeed, Netanyahu’s readiness to inflict casualties is as counter-productive as it is heart-rending to watch.
"For not only does it strain beyond endurance the sympathy of Israel’s friends in the West. It is also bound to prolong the conflict in the region, since every child killed – or ‘martyred’, in the unspeakably cynical language of the terrorists – recruits another extended family of sworn enemies of Israel."
Over the past week, The Times has also couched its support for Israel with a call to end the violence. "It is time for the miserable summer war in Gaza to be brought to a rapid close," the paper's leader said earlier this week.
"The civilian death toll, especially the accidental killing of children, is pushing Israel towards a tipping point. Continuing the fight in its present form would, however, damage Israel’s international standing and make progress towards a peace settlement all but impossible.
"As long as Hamas is bent on undermining and subverting the Palestinian Authority, there will be no lasting peace. The guns can, however, fall silent for a while. Civilians should be able to come out of their bunkers into the sunlight and wise heads across the region should start thinking how to end the cycle of unwinnable Gazan wars."
The Times has couched its support for Israel with an appeal to stop the bloodshed
The Sun, writing about the growing anti-Semitism in Britain following the attacks, also questioned the proportionality of the deaths during Operation Protective Edge. "It is fair to question the apparently indiscriminate force with which Israel is defending itself against terror", the Sun Says column read, condemning the "brutality of Israel’s forces in Gaza".
"To take it out on Jews themselves is the height of loathsome stupidity," it added.
- UN Official Chris Gunness Breaks Down & Sobs Uncontrollably Over Israeli Shelling Of Gaza School (VIDEO)
- Palestinian Teenager Farah Gazan Is Live Tweeting From Gaza (PICTURES)
- Gaza Ceasefire Plans Dismissed By Hamas Commander Saying Fighters Are 'Eager For Death'
- Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei Calls For Arming Gaza To Fight Israel
- Anti-Jewish Attacks Soar In Britain - And That's Even BEFORE The Middle East Conflict Kicked Off
- Anti-Semitism Means The Future Of Europe's Jews Is Under Threat, Says Natan Sharansky
One paper which remains stridently pro-Israel is the Telegraph, which has defended the Israeli operation as a necessary step to stop Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. "Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was deeply reluctant to invade Gaza – but was left with little option, especially when Hamas rejected an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire," one leader read, entitled 'A Bloody Conflict, But Israel Is Not To Blame'.
"Its missiles are deliberately based in densely populated areas, making civilian casualties inevitable. Hamas wants carnage because that fuels its own propaganda campaign against Israel, as well as drawing the hated Jewish state into the wider Middle Eastern conflict. So far, however, the incursion into Gaza has not ignited trouble in the West Bank, something the jihadists would dearly love to see."
"None of this detracts from the misery the conflict has brought, or the need to make every effort to end it," the editorial added.
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