The events we have seen unfolding in Israel are truly horrific. The UK Government is utterly condemning the barbaric terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas and is standing with Israel as it seeks to defend itself in the face of such atrocities.
The UK recognises the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and supports a lasting solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike. However, Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or their aspirations; it offers nothing for them other than more terror and more bloodshed. The Government therefore supports Israel’s right to go after Hamas, take back the hostages, deter further incursions and strengthen its security for the long term.
The loss of every innocent life is a tragedy and the above must be done in line with international humanitarian law, with every effort made to minimise the impact on ordinary Palestinians. While acknowledging that Hamas has enmeshed itself behind the civilian population of Gaza, the UK Prime Minister has called on and will continue to call on the Israeli Government to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.
The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza is also extremely troubling.
The UK has long been a significant provider of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people and I welcome that on 16 October, the UK Government announced that it will increase aid by a third, with an additional £10 million of support. Furthermore, the UK has deployed significant military support to the region to help facilitate the humanitarian response and mitigate escalation of the conflict.
It is also vital that the international community works together to relieve the impact on civilians, a point the UK Prime Minister emphasised during his meeting with the Prime Minister of Sweden ahead of the Joint Expeditionary Force Summit in Gotland on 13 October. He has also spoken with the Egyptian President to underscore the importance of opening the Rafah crossing to allow for humanitarian access and provide a route for British and other nationals to leave Gaza. UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office officials have also been closely engaged with UN efforts to secure humanitarian access and scale up the response.