A PEACE campaigner and his wife have spoken of their shock and horror at the killing in the Middle East during the Israel/Hamas conflict.

Pete and Maggie Squire (who has a Czech Jewish father) My father-in-law in his widowhood did live briefly & temporarily in Jaffa in Israel. He had just survived a Concentration Camp in WW11 when Quakers reunited him with his Czech Polish parents who had been Refugees to Plymouth by ship as WW11 broke out. have travelled extensively in the Middle East seeing close-up the realities of life lived by Israel and Palestinians which most of us have only seen through the prism of conflict. Pete has visited Israel several times since the seventies, including the disputed territories on the West Bank, the Golan Heights (annexed by Israel) and has worked in an Israeli Kibbutz picking fruit. He is a Tavistock Quaker, with a peaceful ethos and helped out at a non-religious Quaker-supported school on the West Bank. Pete joins a weekly Tavistock Peace Action Group vigil in the town centre calling for a long-term ceasefire in Gaza, which has been attacked by Israel in retribution for an attack and hostage-taking by the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

He said: “I am a Quaker and advocate peace as a longer term solution to disputes. Military action does not solve anything. Israel and the disputed Palestinian territories are a turbulent area. I’ve seen how people’s lives are dominated by the long-term struggle for land, but the violence by Hamas on the Israelis did goes beyond anything that has been seen before. The reasoning behind it is incomprehensible and has only made life so much worse for everyone, in Gaza and the West Bank and in Israel. I can only think it’s a break-out by extremists after decades of effectively being imprisoned in Gaza by Israel. It’s hard to imagine the effect pyschologically on 2.5million people of being isolated from the world in poor conditions by Israel. Israel has complete control of who goes in and out and of the water supply.”

Pete and Maggie and their son and nephew chose to go through the military border check-point controls to experience what Palestinians have to go through to enter Israel to work, from the Palestinian West Bank which is controlled by Israel. Pete said: “We all had UK passports, so we could have been waved through by the soldiers, but we wanted to have the full experience and we saw how humiliating it was for the woman we joined to be strip searched every day just to go to work. Pete also visted a synagogue and went on patrol with a Jewish soldier on the former Syrian Golan Helghts: Guns and violence never seem very far away. At the kibbutz an armed guard watched on horseback and a gun was on the table when we ate.” Maggie said: “It’s all too easy to split the view of this current and other conflicts into Jews v Palestinians, but there are Jews worldwide who are appalled at the conflict and see the responsibilities on both sides.”