Israel deliberately allowed 1,400 of its citizens to be massacred on October 7 in order to give it the ‘green light’ to invade Gaza, a Labour by-election candidate has claimed.
Azhar Ali, who is defending a Labour majority of more than 9,000 in Rochdale on February 29, also claimed that Sir Keir Starmer had ‘lost the confidence’ of his MPs over his stance on the conflict.
The bombshell remarks – contained in a secret recording obtained by The Mail on Sunday – will intensify the row within the Labour Party over Sir Keir’s refusal to condemn Israel’s right to besiege Gaza in the wake of the attacks.
Mr Ali’s comments were condemned by the Jewish community and MPs.
Raphi Bloom, co-chairman of the North West Friends Of Israel, said: ‘To accuse the Israeli government of wilfully allowing Jews to be slaughtered is a disgraceful and shocking thing to say.’
Azhar Ali (pictured) apologised ‘unreservedly to the Jewish community for my comments which were deeply offensive, ignorant, and false’
Mr Ali also claimed that Sir Keir Starmer had ‘lost the confidence’ of his MPs over his stance on the conflict
Tory Vice-Chairman Craig Tracey said: ‘The fact that Sir Keir’s candidate for Rochdale is spreading these bizarre and offensive anti-Israel conspiracy theories shows that for all his bluster, he’s failed to change his party.
‘These are the ramblings of an internet crank, not someone who aspires to be a Member of Parliament.’
Last night Mr Ali issued a statement to The Mail on Sunday, saying: ‘I apologise unreservedly to the Jewish community for my comments which were deeply offensive, ignorant, and false.
Hamas’s horrific terror attack was the responsibility of Hamas alone, and they are still holding hostages who must be released.
October 7 was the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust, and Jews in the UK and across the world are living in fear of rising anti-Semitism.
I will urgently apologise to Jewish leaders for my inexcusable comments.
‘The Labour Party has changed unrecognisably under Keir Starmer’s leadership – he has my full support in delivering the change Britain needs.’
Mr Ali made his initial remarks at a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party soon after the attacks, making the astonishing claim that the Israeli government had removed its border security to give the Hamas terrorists free rein.
He told the meeting: ‘The Egyptians are saying that they warned Israel ten days earlier… Americans warned them a day before [that] there’s something happening… They deliberately took the security off, they allowed… that massacre that gives them the green light to do whatever they bloody want.’
The Labour candidate is defending a Labour majority of more than 9,000 in Rochdale on February 29
Rochdale during the launch of his campaign for the up-coming Rochdale by-election
After someone suggested Sir Keir was ‘held in high regard’, Mr Ali replied: ‘Can I disagree with you… A lot of the MPs I’ve spoken to, non-Muslim MPs, feel that on this issue, he’s lost the confidence of the parliamentary party.’
Mr Ali was selected last month to contest the by-election, caused by the death of Sir Tony Lloyd. He served a five-year stint as a Government advisor under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Sir Keir has come under intense pressure over his handling of the Gaza crisis. In November, 56 of his MPs defied him and backed calls for a ceasefire; he is now calling for a ‘sustainable ceasefire’.
On Friday, Shabana Mahmood, the Shadow Justice Secretary, said ‘there has been a sense of a loss of trust… that needs to be rebuilt’ between the party and British Muslims, adding that she ‘wanted a ceasefire then, I want a ceasefire now’.
Gary Mond, Chairman of the National Jewish Assembly, said: ‘Some 1,400 innocent Israeli citizens were murdered, beheaded, burned alive and raped in the most barbaric way imaginable by terrorists from Hamas and affiliated groups.
‘It is these actions the whole world needs to condemn, including Mr Ali… and not indulgence in speculation regarding the causes.
‘As regards Sir Keir Starmer, in refusing to call for a cessation of the war, he demonstrates a recognition of Israel’s basic right to defend itself, and by implication Israel’s right to exist.
‘This is laudable and is endorsed even by those who are not supporters of the Labour Party.’