After Israeli ground troops entered Gaza yesterday evening to continue the operation to eliminate Hamas’ rocket bases, Shadow Foreign minister, David Lidington MP, issued this statement – renewing William Hague’s earlier call for a ceasefire:

"This is a serious development that is bound to lead to yet more loss of life. We support international calls for an immediate ceasefire by both sides. The rocket attacks by Hamas on Israeli cities are acts of terrorism and must cease if there is to be a chance of restoring peace. But only a political agreement and a sustainable ceasefire, possibly backed up by international supervision, will bring about a permanent end to those rocket attacks.  Gaza’s one and a half million civilian population is caught between the warring forces and is paying an appalling price in blood, hunger, misery and fear. Whatever the result of today’s military action, Israel and Gaza will still be neighbours.  The longer the bloodshed continues, the more difficult it will be to overcome intransigence and extremism."

Writing for The Sunday Telegraph, Sir Malcolm Rifkind offers a more sympathetic account of Israel’s actions:

"The Israeli attacks on Hamas are not unreasonable, regardless of electoral considerations. Imagine missiles being fired, most days, across the 21 miles of the English Channel and landing in the towns and villages of Kent. Imagine if, for several years, the IRA had been allowed to fire missiles into the villages of Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic with the consent and approval of the Irish government. Of course, it is controversial to make such comparisons, as Israel’s conflict in Gaza has a very different historic background. But every government has a first duty to protect its citizens. Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005, removing not only its soldiers but all Israeli settlements, despite bitter resistance from the settlers and their political allies. If Hamas, with total power in Gaza, had been willing to concentrate its energies on the economic development of the region and cease cross-border attacks, the Israeli government and public would have been much more willing to make a similar withdrawal from the West Bank where the majority of Palestinians live."

> Read Martin Parsons’ CentreRight post on why Hamas CANNOT be treated as an equal of Israel