Leading British Jews appeal for end to 'horror' of Gaza

 Several of Britain's most prominent Jews have called on Israel to stop military operations in Gaza immediately, warning that its actions, far from improving the country's security, will "strengthen extremism, destabilise the region, and exacerbate tensions inside Israel".

In an open letter published by the Observer yesterday, the group of academics, rabbis and politicians said they were "profound and passionate supporters" of Israel, and supported its right to defend itself against the "war crime" of Hamas rocket attacks, but they said the current tactics threatened to undermine international support for Israel.

The signatories of the letter include: Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield, head of the Movement for Reform Judaism; Sir Jeremy Beecham, former chair of the Labour party; Professor Shalom Lappin of the University of London; Baroness Julia Neuberger; Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism; Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein, principal of Leo Baeck rabbinical training college; Dr Sigmund Sternberg, Rabbi Dr Michael Shire, and lawyer Michael Mitzman, who set up Holocaust Memorial Day Trust for the Home Office.

"We look upon the increasing loss of life on both sides of the Gaza conflict with horror," reads the letter. "We have no doubt that rocket attacks into southern Israel, by Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups, are war crimes against Israel. No sovereign state should, or would, tolerate continued attacks and the deliberate targeting of civilians. Israel had a right to respond and we support the Israeli government's decision to make stopping the rocket attacks an urgent priority.

"However, we believe that now only negotiations can secure long-term security for Israel and the region."

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