Slough MP Tan Dhesi has condemned the “brutal” attacks by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel.

Militant group Hamas has sent fighters across the border and fired thousands of rockets in what it said was a new operation.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country was “at war” as its military began striking targets in Gaza in response.

Slough Observer:

Labour Slough MP Tan Dhesi said: “The brutal terror attacks by Hamas must be condemned. They have set back the cause of peace and led to the outbreak of a bloody war, with thousands of innocent people tragically losing their lives.

"Israel has a right to defend itself and rescue hostages in line with international law.

"However, we must not conflate the Palestinian people with Hamas. There must be humanitarian access to Gaza and continued supplies of food, water, electricity and medicines.

"Here in the UK, we must collectively take a stand against anyone spreading hatred or racism. Indeed, in these dark days, it’s heartbreaking to see both Israeli and Palestinian civilians having to endure such suffering."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “I utterly condemn the ongoing attacks on Israel and her citizens.

“There is no justification for this act of terror which is being perpetrated by those who seek to undermine any chance for future peace in the region."

Israel has blockaded Gaza since Islamic militant group Hamas gained control of the territory in 2007 and the two have fought wars ever since.

In a televised address, Mr Netanyahu made his first remarks since the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers launched a major, multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak on Saturday.

“We are at war,” Mr Netanyahu said. “Not an ‘operation’, not a ’round’, but at war.”

The prime minister also ordered the military to clear the infiltrated towns of Hamas militants that remained locked in gunfights with Israeli soldiers.

Hamas caught Israel off-guard on Simchat Torah, a major holiday, with a show of force including the deployment of dozens of soldiers to the country’s heavily fortified border on Saturday.

The attack revived memories of the 1973 war almost 50 years to the day, in which Israel’s enemies launched a surprise attack on Yom Kippur.

Hezbollah congratulated Hamas, describing the attack as a response to “Israeli crimes” and saying the militants had “divine backing”.

The group said its command in Lebanon was in contact with Hamas about the operation.