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22 October 2023

Steve Coogan among celebrities backing campaign for humanitarian support for Gaza

22 October 2023

Steve Coogan has condemned Hamas over what he calls their “horrific and brutal” invasion of Israel as he defended a letter he signed to campaign for humanitarian support for Gaza.

Oscar winning actress Tilda Swinton, Game Of Thrones star Charles Dance, and Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes are also among the more than 2,000 artists to back the open call.

The letter, written by Artists For Palestine UK, calls for “an immediate ceasefire and the opening of Gaza’s crossings to allow humanitarian aid to enter unhindered”.

It has also urged the signatories Governments to “end their military and political support for Israel’s actions”.

However, there has been a backlash by those who claim the letter should have condemned militant Palestinian group Hamas.

In a statement released to the PA news agency on Sunday, Coogan said: “I just want to make sure that is correct, and I do of course condemn the recent Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel; their deliberate murder of civilians and their taking of hostages.

“All right thinking people do.

“The Jewish people have been uniquely the target of hate and prejudice for millennia and anyone who cares about human rights should be vigilant and call it out when they encounter it.

“It goes without saying that what Hamas did is evil beyond imagination. It was horrific and brutal.

“It is in no way inconsistent with condemnation of the Hamas atrocity, to express grave concern for the lives and welfare of innocent Palestinian civilians facing a humanitarian disaster, deprived of food, water, medicine fuel and shelter.”

In a statement to X, formerly Twitter, Outlander star Sam Heughan said he “inadvertently” signed the letter and it does not reflect his “beliefs”.

Heughan added: “I believed it was a simple call for peace… It wasn’t.

“I condemn violence in any form. I stand against terrorism and evil and am heartbroken and appalled by the recent horrific actions by Hamas. It’s haunting to the core, my heart goes out to all affected.

“I don’t know nearly enough and (I am) trying to educate myself on the conflicts in the Middle East.

“I feel helpless and wish I could help in some way. I pray for compassion, for all the innocent people affected. Peace and love to you all. X.”

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