Three weeks ago, as the brutal attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists was still unfolding, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant declared “We are imposing a complete siege: There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. We are fighting against human animals and we are acting accordingly.”

Language which dehumanises others is a major red flag: Once people stop seeing each other as human, they can start to justify inhumane behaviour…

The deliberate killing of civilians by Hamas was an evil act of terrorism. But two wrongs do not make a right. Nothing can justify the starvation and bombing of Palestinian civilians. 1,400 innocent Israelis were killed on 7th October, but over 7,000 innocent Palestinans have been killed since then. This is not self-defence; it is vengeance.

Nationalism divides the world into “us” and “them”, and many people only seem able to see one point of view, offering unconditional support to one side. But blind loyalty is not true friendship. Friends don’t stand silent while friends make mistakes. So I was proud to hear these words from Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey, calling for the release of hostages and the ending of the siege:

“It is hard to watch the news right now. We continue to hear reports of the brutal terrorism of Hamas, which still holds more than 200 Israelis hostage in Gaza. And now we have a situation in Gaza which is frankly devastating. The 2.2 million residents of the Gaza Strip, over half of whom are children, are hurtling towards a humanitarian catastrophe. It is horrifying.

“Liberal Democrats are clear: it is vital that essential supplies like food, water and medicine get to innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza, in line with international law. It is also of the utmost importance that the hostages – including children as young as nine months old – are immediately and unconditionally released.

“We support Israel’s right to protect its citizens and target these brutal terrorists Hamas, in line with international law. We are clear that innocent Palestinians must not pay the price for the atrocities of Hamas. And we affirm that the world has a duty to prevent needless civilian deaths.

“That’s why we have declared our support for a temporary humanitarian ceasefire, in order to bring about a pause in hostilities. We need the space for an intense period of diplomacy, to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, and to provide an opportunity to release the hostages.

“We are clear that the people of both Israel and Palestine have a right to live free from fear. The thing that will ultimately give them the security which they deserve – the security which will prevent the sort of scenes which we have seen over the past days – is to finally bring about the two state solution, and a lasting peace.”