Paul Bristow, a member of the UK Conservative Party and representative for Peterborough, accused Israel of killing “dozens of Palestinian children” in 2023 in comments he made to the House of Commons on July 18.
Bristow went on to call for the coalition government to show “compassion and restraint” and insisted “all sides” need to put “respect for human life first.”
“We should never become immune to those deaths, and the tragedy of those deaths,” Bristow said in an address to the UK’s Foreign Officer Minister David Rutley. “Will the minister agree with me, and urge the Israeli government to show compassion and restraint and urge all sides to put respect for human life first?”
So far in 2023, dozens of Palestinian children have been killed in Israeli military operations - we should never become immune to the tragedy of these deaths. I raised this Parliament! Both sides should put respect for human life first. pic.twitter.com/iokb6Gd8F4— Paul Bristow MP (@paulbristow79) July 18, 2023
The House of Commons speaker’s response to Bristow
Rutley responded by affirming that Bristow had raised an “important point” and said that “every one of those deaths is tragic.” He later went on to add that the UK’s Foreign Office had published a recent report which claimed that the Palestinian territories were a “human rights priority.”
Rutley stated that the UK “will continue to oppose violations and abuse of international human rights or international humanitarian law by the government of Israel or the Palestinian Authority.”
Response to the House of Commons discussion
National Jewish Assembly (NJA) Chairman Gary Mond told The Jerusalem Post that "Conservative MP Paul Bristow's comments are highly misleading and give the erroneous impression that the Israeli army is deliberately seeking to target children.”
“The truth is that the young people who have died are mostly members of Palestinian terror groups who are carrying guns or other arms with the intention of killing Israelis. While all deaths are tragic, these are happening in the context of self-defense."
In a press release, NJA went on to say that “It is essential to note that the so-called "children" mentioned by Bristow are, by and large, teenagers who are full-fledged members of Palestinian terrorist organizations. Israel, like any sovereign state, has the right and responsibility to protect its citizens from terrorist militants and maintain security in the face of ongoing threats.”
The NJA finalized their release by stating that they urge "MPs and public figures to engage in informed and responsible discussions, rather than to perpetuate false narratives. Accusing Israel without proper evidence and disregarding the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict undermines the prospects for meaningful dialogue and a just resolution.”