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Government drags Britain a step closer to war in the Middle East

THE British government dragged the nation a step closer to war in the Middle East after the Prime Minister admitted today it had sent RAF fighter jets to shoot down Iranian drones and missiles.

The escalation of the Iranian and Israeli tensions over the weekend prompted calls for “a halt to this terrifying slide to wider conflict” in addition to the continuing demands by tens of thousands of protesters for a ceasefire in Gaza.

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that while supporting “all measures designed to restore calm” and prevent a wider regional war, “we continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of our other partners in the region.”

And shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper supported the government’s decision to involve the RAF.

Iran was reported to have launched more than 300 drones and missiles against Israel late on Saturday in retaliation for Israel’s murderous attack on Iran’s consulate in Damascus in Syria on April 1 which reportedly killed several people including Iranian military officers.

Israel said 99 per cent of the Iranian drones and missiles were shot down or destroyed by its “iron dome” missile defence system.

PM Rishi Sunak confirmed today that RAF jets were used in the operation.

Stop the War Coalition (StW) convener Lindsey German said the group had warned for months that Israeli attacks on Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq risked regional war.

“In the last few days that war has come closer,” she said. “We call on all sides to show restraint and to stop this terrifying slide to wider conflict.”

She said Iran’s attack had been provoked by Israel’s bombing of its Damascus consulate which she said represented an attack on Iranian territory under international law.

“That deliberately provocative attack was not condemned by the US, the UK or the UN security council,” she said.

“The Iranian leadership has said, that if it had been, they would have felt no need to retaliate.”

She demanded no Israeli retaliation against Iran.

StW vice-chairman Chris Nineham added: “We also continue to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to UK arms sales to Israel.

“The evidence of war crimes carried out during the assault on Gaza is irrefutable.”

Israel’s Netanyahu-led government includes far-right zionist extremists who advocate eradicating Palestine and creating a single “Greater Israel” stretching from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean.

Mr Nineham said: “At least an important component of the Israeli leadership is actively seeking a more general war in the Middle East and they wish to draw the US and its allies in to support it.

“There must be an end to Western support for Israel as it carries out genocide against the people of Gaza and tries to widen the conflict and a lasting settlement for a sovereign and free Palestine.”

Across Britain, tens of thousands of protesters marched on Saturday demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Britain’s supply of weapons to Israel.

The theme of a weekly protest in Manchester was “End Arms Sales to Israel.”

Greater Manchester Friends of Palestine chair Norma Turner said: “After 75 years of occupation, 17 years of siege, the horror they are facing demands that we stand for them and demands on us here to stop any British complicity in these crimes.

“Every F-35 jet has parts made in England. Every Elbit Hermes 450 drone that killed seven aid workers and thousands of Palestinians has an engine made at Elbit’s UAV Engines arms factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire.”

At a rally In Edinburgh, hundreds watched Palestinian children recite poems and messages of support for the children of Gaza.


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