U.K.'s PM David Cameron (L) listens to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) listens to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg speak at a joint news conference at 10 Downing Street in central London July 10, 2014. Photo by Reuters
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The U.K.'s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Thursday that Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in response to Hamas rocket fire is "deliberately disproportionate.'"

Speaking on his weekly phone-in to radio station LBC, the Liberal Democrats leader accused Israel of "collective punishment" against the Palestinians, The Guardian reported.

"I have to say though I really do think now the Israeli response appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is just unacceptable," Clegg said.

He added that Israel has the right to defend itself, but that Jerusalem has made its point.

"I really would now call on the Israeli government to stop. They have proved their point. Israeli of course retains the right to react. But you cannot see the humanitarian suffering in Gaza now and the very great number of deaths in Gaza without concluding that there is not much more going to be served in Israel's own interests … to see this festering humanitarian crisis get worse. It incubates the next generation of violent extremists who want to do harm to Israel," he said.

The death toll in Gaza had reached 230 by Thursday since Operation Protective Edge began. On Wednesday, four children were killed in Gaza as the result of Israeli shelling. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have fired more than 1,215 rockets and mortar shells into Israel since the hostilities began, reaching the length and breadth of the country. One Israeli has been killed, several wounded and millions of lives disrupted. Of the missiles fired, 38 have exploded in built-up spaces and 231 have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.