‘We absolutely support Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law,’ says Rishi Sunak
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday expressed solidarity with his Israeli counterpart, reiterating UK support for Israel’s “right to defend” itself.
At a joint news conference with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Sunak said over the last two weeks Israel has gone through something that “no country, no people should have to endure.”
“We absolutely support Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law to go after (Palestinian group) Hamas, to take back hostages, deter further incursions and to strengthen your security for the long term,” he added.
Sunak claimed that Israel is “taking every precaution to avoid harming civilians,” adding that recent scenes “have shocked all of us,” in particular Tuesday’s hospital bombing that left some 500 people dead: “We mourn the loss of every innocent light, civilians of every faith, every nationality who has been killed.”
“We also recognize that the Palestinian people are victims of Hamas too,” added the British premier.
The flattening of Gaza’s Al-Ahli Hospital this Tuesday has been widely blamed on an Israeli airstrike, though Israel has denied any involvement.
But that incident as well as Israel’s “total siege” of Gaza – cutting it off from water, electricity, and fuel – have led protesters worldwide and many observers to accuse Israel of carrying out war crimes against civilians.
Netanyahu told Sunak that now is Israel’s “darkest hour.”
“Eighty years ago, prime minister, the civilized world stood with you in your darkest hour, this is our darkest hour, It’s the world’s darkest hour,” he said, referring to the World War II Battle of Britain.
Netanyahu went on to say that they need continued support against Hamas, who called Israel “the new Nazis, new (Daesh) ISIS.”
Earlier, Sunak met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog as part of his trip to the country.
The visit comes amid a massive Israeli air campaign on the Gaza Strip, taking many civilian lives, following a cross-border attack by Palestinian group Hamas into Israeli border towns.
The conflict in Gaza, under Israeli bombardment and blockade since Oct. 7, began when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a multi-pronged surprise attack that included a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel by land, sea, and air. It said the incursion was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and growing violence by Israeli settlers.
The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza is experiencing a dire humanitarian crisis, with electricity cut off, while water, food, fuel, and medical supplies are running out.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” to ease the “epic human suffering.”
The visit also comes just days after Tuesday’s Israeli airstrike on a hospital in Gaza killed at least 471 people.
At least 3,785 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza, while the figure stands at more than 1,400 people in Israel.