“Thank you for contacting me about the war in Gaza which started in the wake of the October 7 attacks in Israel. In these appalling attacks approximately 1,400 people were murdered and approximately further 3,500 were injured. Furthermore around 200 people were taken hostage including the elderly and children.
Hamas, is an extremist fundamentalist Islamic terror group and is fully responsible for this atrocity. Their stated purpose is to kill all Jews and destroy the State of Israel. The Palestinian people and Hamas are not one of the same, and Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or their aspirations. It offers nothing for them but poverty and violent coercion since they suspended elections in Gaza in 2006. Hamas planned and chose to attack Israel knowing full well that there was risk of a full-scale conflict that would put the people they rule over in harms way.
In the wake on the attacks on October 7, Israel has decided that Hamas poses such a threat that they need to be removed militarily in an act of self-defence. The UK has been consistently clear that in doing so it must respect international humanitarian law. The recent ruling by the International Criminal Court did not order Israel to stop its military campaign but expressed concerned about the conditions it was creating on the ground for Palestinian civilians.
There must be a reduction in civilian casualties, and I agree with the Government that we want to see Israel take much greater care to limit its operations to military targets and avoid harming civilians and destroying homes. The suffering that civilians in Gaza are experiencing is unbearable to witness, and it is imperative that more aid reaches them. During a visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories last November, the Foreign Secretary announced £30 million to support trusted partners, to deliver lifesaving aid to people in Gaza. It brings to £60 million the additional aid announced by the UK for Palestinian civilians since the crisis started in October.
Work is also ongoing to increase the flow of aid into Gaza. The UK is doing everything it can to get more aid in and open more crossings, and we played a leading role in securing the passage of UN Security Council resolution 2720, which made clear the urgent demand for expanded humanitarian access and made calls for the release of hostages.
Nobody wants to see this conflict last a moment longer than necessary, and I welcome that the UK Government is supporting a sustainable ceasefire. For a ceasefire to be sustainable, the conditions need to be in place for it not to collapse within a few days.
There is no perfect formula for peace. Clearly, however, leaving Hamas in power in Gaza would be a permanent roadblock to a two-state solution. A ceasefire would also not last if hostages are still being held. A sustainable ceasefire must mean that Hamas is no longer there, able to threaten Israel with rocket attacks and other forms of terrorism.
Ahead of a permanent ceasefire, the UK wants to see immediate and sustained humanitarian pauses. This will allow a window for hostages to leave and more aid to enter Gaza.
The UK Government continues to work with its partners towards a two-state solution, which remains the only viable long-term solution. In December of 2023 on behalf of a number of constituents I sought clarification about the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories from a Minister. Their response can be found using this link: Lord Ahmad's letter in response to the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (January 2024) | Sally-Ann Hart (sallyannhart.org.uk).
In regard to arms sales to Israel, the UK Government takes its export control responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, based on the most up-to-date information and analysis available.
Licence decisions take account of prevailing circumstances at the time of application and include human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. Export licenses are not issued where to do so would be inconsistent with the consolidated criteria, including where there is a clear risk that the items might be used for a serious violation of international law.
Thank you again for contacting me,
Sally-Ann Hart MP.”