Sunak could visit Israel as soon as Thursday reports
Rishi Sunak could visit Israel as soon as Thursday, according to reports, amid growing concerns about the crisis in the Middle East.
The Prime Minister could reportedly travel to the country as part of a wider trip to the region, including stops in Jordan and Egypt, Sky News reported.
It would follow visits from US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Downing Street has said it will not comment on the Prime Minister’s travel plans, but reports suggested he would travel to Israel in the coming days.
An Israeli air strike hit a Gaza City hospital packed with wounded and other Palestinians seeking shelter, killing hundreds, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
The attack would, if confirmed, be by far the deadliest Israeli air strike in five wars fought since 2008.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK would be working to establish what had happened after Hamas and Israel traded blame for the blast.
“The destruction of Al Ahli hospital is a devastating loss of human life. The UK has been clear,” he said in a post on X.
“The protection of civilian life must come first. The UK will work with our allies to find out what has happened and protect innocent civilians in Gaza.”
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said the hospital had been run by the Anglican church.
“This is an appalling and devastating loss of innocent lives,” he said.
“The Ahli hospital is run by the Anglican church. I mourn with our brothers and sisters – please pray for them.”
It comes after it was confirmed a British teenager was one of the people murdered by Hamas during its attack on the country.
Yahel Sharabi, 13, was killed along with her mother, Lianne, while her elder sister, Noiya, 16, and her father, Eli, are still missing.
The teenager disappeared after militants attacked Kibbutz Be’eri and murdered her British-born mother.
The girl’s death has been confirmed by her family, the Israeli embassy in London said.
Mr Sunak updated Cabinet on Tuesday with the latest developments from the conflict, telling ministers Hamas was responsible for the “murder and suspected abduction of British nationals”.
At least six Britons were killed in the Hamas attacks on October 7, with a further 10 missing – some feared dead.
More than 900 people have been brought back from Israel and all UK nationals registered with the Foreign Office and wanting to leave have been allocated seats, it is understood.
Any British citizens wanting to leave are being encouraged to book a flight before the portal closes at 10am UK time on Wednesday.
Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell told the BBC the Government is “extremely concerned” about British hostages being held by Hamas and on Sky News he said “we pray that they are alive”.
Mr Mitchell was unable to elaborate on the efforts to secure their release, but insisted to LBC: “The entire resources of the British Government are involved in doing everything we can to get our citizens back.”
At least 1,400 people were killed, many of them civilians, and thousands more injured in Hamas’s attack.
At least 2,778 Palestinians have died as Israel launched air strikes on Gaza and cut off fuel, water, food and medical supplies from entering the cramped territory, which is home to more than two million people.
British officials are working to secure the opening of the Rafah crossing to allow Britons to flee to Egypt and for humanitarian aid to get into Gaza.
Mr Mitchell told Times Radio that Israel had “both a moral and a practical responsibility” on the issue.
“We stand absolutely foursquare behind Israel’s right to defend itself, but all of us want to see the fighting contained,” he said.
Britain urged Israel to restore the supply of water to Gaza, and refused to say whether its ally is complying with international law during its siege.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said talks are ongoing with Israel as the UK is “keen to see water restored”, as he declined to say whether Israel had kept within legal limits.
“We continue to urge Israel, as a democracy we work closely with, to act within international law in their actions, I think they are taking steps to do that,” he said.
Mr Mitchell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Mr Biden’s visit to Israel could be a “significant fillip” to getting humanitarian relief through.
The US president is travelling to Israel and Jordan on Wednesday amid concerns the Israel-Hamas conflict could spiral into a wider regional issue.
As well as his talks in Israel, the US president will meet King Abdullah of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Mr Scholz travelled to Israel for an impromptu visit on Tuesday, while French President Emmanuel Macron said he will travel to the region “as soon as I consider that we have a useful agenda and very concrete actions to drive forward”.
Downing Street would not comment publicly on whether Mr Sunak would head to the region.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’ll set out travel plans in the usual way, I couldn’t get into speculation.”
Israeli air strikes continued early on Tuesday, even inside the evacuation zone where Israel had told residents to gather in advance of the expected ground assault on Gaza.
Published: by Radio NewsHub