Cameron: Situation in Gaza is dire, prospect of famine is real

Six months since Oct. 7, British PM says ‘terrible’ Israel-Hamas war ‘must end’

Sunak says UK backs Israel’s ‘right to defeat’ terror group but ‘is shocked by the bloodshed,’ argues immediate ‘humanitarian pause… is fastest way to get hostages out and aid in’

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addresses the media at Downing Street in London, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addresses the media at Downing Street in London, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday said the “terrible” war between Israel and Hamas “must end,” six months since the terror group’s shock onslaught that initiated the fighting.

“We continue to stand by Israel’s right to defeat the threat from Hamas terrorists and defend their security. But the whole of the UK is shocked by the bloodshed,” he said in a statement.

“This terrible conflict must end. The hostages must be released. The aid –- which we have been straining every sinew to deliver by land, air and sea -– must be flooded in,” he added.

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war began on October 7 with an unprecedented Hamas-led attack from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists who killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians. The terrorists also took 253 hostages, about 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including over 30 that the Israeli army says are dead.

“Today marks six months since the terrorist outrage of 7th October –- the most appalling attack in Israel’s history, the worst loss of Jewish life since the Second World War,” Sunak said.

“Six months later, Israeli wounds are still unhealed. Families still mourn and hostages are still held by Hamas.”

Sunak said the children of Gaza needed a “humanitarian pause immediately, leading to a long-term sustainable ceasefire.”

“That is the fastest way to get hostages out and aid in, and to stop the fighting and loss of life.

“For the good of both Israelis and Palestinians — who all deserve to live in peace, dignity and security — that is what we will keep working to achieve,” he added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The British government on Friday called for “utmost transparency” and a “wholly independent review” into the killing of seven aid workers in the Gaza Strip, which the Israeli military has called a “serious failure” and dismissed two senior officers.

Three of the seven World Central Kitchen staff who died in an Israeli airstrike on Monday evening were British.

The deaths have also heaped pressure on the UK government to suspend arms export licenses to Israel.

The British government, meanwhile, said a British Royal Navy ship will supply aid to Gaza as part of an international effort to help set up a new humanitarian maritime corridor in early May.

The multinational effort, involving the United States, Cyprus and other partners, will develop a new temporary pier off the coast of Gaza, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said.

“The situation in Gaza is dire and the prospect of famine is real. We remain committed to getting aid to those who so desperately need it,” Cameron said in a statement.

Cameron has also pledged 9.7 million pounds ($12.26 million) for aid equipment and logistical expertise to help set up the maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza, his office said.

The initiative will see aid pre-screened in Cyprus and delivered directly to Gaza, through the new US temporary pier being constructed off the coast or via Ashdod Port after Israel agreed to open it, the foreign ministry said.

The ship Open Arms belonging to the Spanish aid group by the same name, arrives in Larnaca port after delivering 200 tons of aid to Gaza, on March 17, 2024 (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

British Defense Minister Grant Shapps said the new temporary pier on the coast of Gaza will host cargo ships to deliver aid by sea.

The government said British military teams had been embedded with planning teams in the US operational headquarters in Tampa, Florida, as well as in Cyprus for several weeks to develop the safest and most effective maritime route.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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