Cameron says Israel must ‘stop and think’ over Rafah attack

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron (Dan Kitwood/PA Wire)

Lord David Cameron has urged Israel to “stop and think seriously” before continuing its military offensive in southern Gaza.

The foreign secretary made his appeal to Israel after it launched a deadly assault on the south of the territory overnight bordering Egypt, killing scores of civilians.

Israel announced that during the operation, two hostages, taken by terror group Hamas during its 7 October assault, had been freed.

The country also signalled its intention to launch a ground offensive in the area, which is currently populated by up to a million refugees, half of Gaza’s population, who were told to move south from the north, as Israel attempted to root out Hamas.

Speaking to reporters today, Lord Cameron said: “We are very concerned about what is happening in Rafah because, let’s be clear, the people there, many of whom have moved four, five, six times before getting there.

“It really, we think, is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people, there is nowhere for them to go.

“They can’t go south into Egypt, they can’t go north and back to their homes because many have been destroyed.

“So we are very concerned about the situation and we want Israel to stop and think seriously before it takes any further action.

“But above all, what we want is an immediate pause in the fighting. We want that pause to lead to a ceasefire, a sustainable ceasefire without a return to further fighting. That is what should happen now.

“We need to get those hostages out, including the British nationals. We need to get the aid in. The best way to do that is to stop the fighting now and turn that into a permanent, sustainable ceasefire.”

The foreign office also announced it had sanctioned four Israeli settler leaders, who have targeted Palestinians in the West Bank.

Lord Cameron said: “Today’s sanctions place restrictions on those involved in some of the most egregious abuses of human rights. We should be clear about what is happening here. Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs.

“This behaviour is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must also take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence. Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given, but not followed through. Extremist settlers, by targeting and attacking Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Earlier today, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “We are obviously deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah.

“Over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering there and that crossing is vital to ensuring aid can reach the people who desperately need it.”

In response to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise of a ‘total victory’ in Gaza,  Sunak’s official spokesman said: “That’s the prime minister of Israel’s language.

“From the PM’s perspective, what we want to see is a pause in this fighting so we can get aid in and hostages out, and obviously what we all want to see is a sustainable ceasefire.

“Clearly, in order to reach that, as we’ve said before, we need to see measures taken including Hamas no longer in charge of Gaza and an arrangement that ensures the sustainable security of Israel, as well as aid in to support the people living in Gaza.”

Contribution also from Press Association

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