Bradford East MP David Ward forced to apologise for rocket attack Tweet

Bradford East MP David Ward forced to apologise for rocket attack Tweet

David Ward MP

Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22

First published in News
Last updated

A BRADFORD MP has been forced to apologise after appearing to back Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

Liberal Democrat MP David Ward caused an outcry after suggesting he would fire rockets at Israelis if he lived in Gaza.

"The big question is - if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes," he posted on Twitter.

He has since apologised for the remark, but could still face disciplinary action from his party, which has suspended him in the past over comments he made about Israel and Jews.

Yesterday, Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub wrote to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, expressing his "shock and disgust" at Mr Ward's latest comment.

Mr Taub said: "Mr Ward has in the past made hurtful and shocking statements regarding Israel and the Holocaust , but there surely has been none so abhorrent and damaging as his latest statement justifying these attacks.

"It is hard to convey the hurt such a statement causes to the five million Israelis forced to live within reach of bomb shelters, or the damage caused to Palestinian society when incitement to terrorism is legitimised by a member of the British parliament."

Mr Taub called for Mr Clegg to take "forceful and immediate" action against Mr Ward, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews called for the Bradford East MP to be thrown out of his party.

Meanwhile, Labour called Mr Ward's comment "vile", and Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said it was "essentially incitement to violence".

The Liberal Democrat party reacted quickly, saying it "utterly condemned" the remarks.

A spokesman said: "The party takes this matter very seriously and will treat it as a disciplinary issue."

Mr Ward started the day yesterday telling the Telegraph & Argus he stood by his comment on Twitter and would not be withdrawing it.

He said: "What it is doing is understanding the state of mind of people who are absolutely desperate and are looking to the world to help them."

He denied he was condoning the killing of innocent Israeli civilians, and said he had condemned the violence just days ago in Parliament.

He said: "If you lived in Gaza and you saw people being blown to pieces by one of the world's most powerful military forces and no-one was doing anything about it, save for platitudes about calling for a ceasefire, what would you do?

"Well, I don't know what I would do but I can imagine I would be in a pretty desperate state and would then do things I wouldn't normally do."

But later yesterday, Mr Ward released an apology through the Liberal Democrat office.

It said: "I utterly condemn the violence on both sides in Israel and Gaza.

“I condemn the actions of Hamas, and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise."

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "This is a categorical apology from David Ward. In light of this apology, the party and the whips will decide in due course if further disciplinary action should be taken."

Mr Ward, the MP for Bradford East, was suspended by the party for several weeks last year after making controversial comments about Israel and Jews.

He had the party whip restored in September after serving a suspension over a series of clashes with the Lib Dem hierarchy over his views on Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.

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