A former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has come under fire from some unionists after attacking Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as “dreadful”.

Lord Kilclooney’s remarks came as a 24-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas broke down yesterday with the resumption of rocket fire.

More than 1,060 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in the recent three-week offensive, compared to 43 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians. Questions are growing as to whether Israel is guilty of war crimes. In an unusual statement from a unionist, the former deputy leader of the party’s Assembly group also said he had been “amazed” by the adoption of the Israeli flag in some loyalist areas of Northern Ireland. “I often think they haven’t seen the reality of what is happening there,” said Lord Kilclooney.

“I am not an authority on war crime, but what does concern me are the civilians, women and children, who are being slaughtered. It is the slaughter of the innocents. It’s dreadful what Israel has been doing.”