“Thank you for contacting me about the situation in Gaza.
The events we have seen unfolding in Israel are truly horrific. I join the UK Government in utterly condemning the barbaric terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas, and in standing with Israel as it seeks to defend itself in the face of such atrocities. It is also crucial that Hamas releases the hostages it has taken.
At dawn on 7th October, approximately 2,500 Hamas terrorists entered Israel’s border from the Gaza Strip. They indiscriminately and horrifically murdered 1,400 people, injured a further 3,500 and took around 200 people as hostages, including babies and children. People, children and babies were tortured, raped and burned alive. More Jews were killed on that day than on any day since the Holocaust. There can be no doubt that this was a massacre, affecting thousands of people from over 30 countries, including the UK.
Hamas, an extremist fundamentalist Islamic terror group, is fully responsible for this atrocity, whose stated purpose is to kill all Jews and destroy the State of Israel through Jihad. Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or their aspirations; it offers nothing for them other than more terror and more bloodshed, as Hamas has no qualms in using Palestinian people as human shields. I therefore absolutely support Israel’s right to go after Hamas, take back the hostages, deter further incursions and strengthen its security for the long term on behalf of both Israeli and Palestinian people. For anyone to condone the evil and violent acts of Hamas is unacceptable and I am truly shocked to read the large majority of campaign emails I have received do not even mention Hamas' attack on Israel. It is really very disturbing how many people blame Israel for the attacks and conflict in Gaza. There is absolutely no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas in this conflict.
The UK recognises the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and supports a lasting solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike. In July on behalf of a number of constituents I sought clarification of the position from a Minister. The Minister’s response can be found here: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (July 2023) | Sally-Ann Hart (sallyannhart.org.uk)
The loss of every innocent life is a tragedy, and the fight against Hamas 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. I understand that he has also spoken with the Egyptian President to underscore the importance of opening the Rafah crossing to allow for humanitarian and aid access; including food, medicine and water. The crossing also has the potential to 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.
The explosion at the Al Ahli hospital has caused devastating loss of life. It is a tragedy on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. The UK is now working with our allies to urgently establish what happened; it is astounding how many supporting the Palestinian cause leapt at the chance to blame Israel without any proof at all - a malign rush to judgement. It is alarming how many people prefer to believe a terrorist group over a democratically elected government. Speculation and incorrect accusations could put more lives at risk. In the meantime, this incident only reinforces the importance of getting humanitarian relief into Gaza and opening the Rafah crossing. The UK is continuing to work with partners, including Egypt and Israel, to that end.
I note your calls for the UK to push for a ceasefire. The UK is working via all diplomatic channels—bilaterally and collectively in the region—to ensure that this conflict, which has cost so many lives already, can be brought to a halt.
However, the reality is that Hamas have no interest in a ceasefire. They have no interest in resolution, have never attempted to engage in a two-state solution and have made every attempt to collapse the Oslo process. I must reiterate that Israel has the right to take action to defend itself and to recover its hostages, and the UK, while respecting that, will always encourage it to adhere to international law and protect civilians.
British Nationals in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Gaza, are advised to register your presence with the FCDO.
This is a fast-moving situation, and I will be sure to follow developments closely.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP.”