Grant Shappss daughter faced anti-Semitic chants from protesters at university

Grant Shapps has said his daughter faced anti-Semitic chants at her university in the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7 terror attack on Israel.

The Defence Secretary, who is a practising Jew, said his daughter had told him she felt “uneasy”, with people “rampaging” through her campus chanting the controversial slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Mr Shapps told The Times: “She was telling me people were rampaging through the campus shouting: ‘From the river to the sea’, which is clearly an anti-Semitic trope, and it puts her under pressure and makes her feel uneasy.”

His comments came ahead of a march in central London where thousands of pro-Palestine protesters called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as they marched from Bank to Parliament Square on Saturday (December 9). The march follows the British Government choosing to abstain on a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza – a motion which was vetoed by the US.

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Mr Shapps told The Times he is British first, Defence Secretary second and “thirdly” his religion “happens to be Judaism”. He added: “But most of all I am a human being. Whether someone dies in Gaza or dies in Israel, to me there is no difference. It shouldn’t be happening in either. I think that sense of humanity should be at the forefront of everybody’s minds.”

The Defence Secretary has also warned the Israel-Hamas war could get even worse and possibly spark an “enormous” conflict in the Middle East. Mr Shapps is expected to discuss efforts to speed up delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza during a forthcoming visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) and Israel.

He is due to meet interior minister of the Palestinian Authority, General Ziad Hab Al-Reeh in the OPTs, and Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv during his trip on Wednesday and Thursday. Mr Shapps will also discuss how the UK can support the Palestinian Authority and efforts to prevent further escalation in the Middle East, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Defence Secretary will also talk about efforts to recover hostages – including a number of Britons – who were taken by Hamas fighters during the group’s bloody incursion into Israel.

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Meanwhile, Israel continued to pound areas of the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and artillery on Saturday. Two hospitals in central and southern Gaza received the bodies of 133 people killed in bombings over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory said.

Seventy-one bodies were brought to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Hospital in the central city of Deir al-Balah. The hospital also received 160 wounded people. Dozens held funeral prayers on Saturday morning in the hospital’s courtyard, before taking the bodies for burial.

In the southern city of Khan Younis, which has been the focus of Israel’s military operations over the past week, Nasser Hospital received the bodies of 62 people, according to the ministry.

An Israeli community announced on the same day that a man who had been taken hostage by Hamas militants died in captivity. His captors said Sahar Baruch was killed during a failed rescue mission by Israeli forces early on Friday (December 8).

The Israeli military has only confirmed that two soldiers were seriously wounded in an attempted hostage rescue and no hostages were freed. Mr Baruch, 25, was among more than 240 people taken hostage on October 7. His brother was killed in the attack on their community, Kibbutz Be’eri. The kibbutz confirmed Sahar Baruch’s death on Saturday.

More than 130 hostages remain in captivity.

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In Jerusalem, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in the West Bank on Saturday while another succumbed to his wounds from an Israeli raid the day before, according to local health officials.

The deaths brought to 274 the number of Palestinians killed in the occupied territory since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Most of the Palestinians were killed in shootouts that the Israeli military says began during operations to arrest suspected militants.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a man, 25, died of his wounds on Saturday after being shot during an arrest raid in the Faraa refugee camp on Friday, bringing the death toll there to seven. Among those killed was a local commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade.

Also on Saturday, Israeli forces killed a 25-year-old Palestinian during a raid on his home near the city of Hebron. The military said the man shot at a military post earlier in the week. During the raid on Saturday, the military claimed he attacked soldiers with a knife, injuring one.

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