Sunak calls for the world to ‘come together’ to stop Middle East escalation

The Prime Minister’s appeal comes as he arrives in Israel amid growing fears the crisis could spiral.

His two-day visit – part of a wider diplomatic push in the region – follows last week’s deadly attacks by Hamas in which 1,400 Israelis were killed.

At least seven British nationals, including 13-year-old Yahel Sharabi, were also killed in the barbaric raids on October 7.

Another nine are missing, some are feared dead.

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More than 3,000 people have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials.

Mr Sunak’s visit comes two days after the deadly atrocity on Al Ahli Hospital which killed at least 500 people.

He will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Herzog before travelling to a number of other regional capitals.

Downing Street said the PM will share his condolences for the “terrible loss of life” in Israel and Gaza in the last two weeks “as a result of Hamas’ brutal terrorist attacks”.

Mr Sunak will tell his fellow leaders that the international community “must not let Hamas’ barbaric terrorism and disregard for human life become a catalyst for further escalation of conflict in the region.”

The visit follows Israel’s announcement that the route into Gaza will be opened up to allow humanitarian aid to enter.

The Prime Minister will press for that to happen as soon as possible to allow the UK to deliver extra humanitarian aid and to enable British nationals trapped in Gaza to leave.

There are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 British or dual nationals in Israel and Gaza, according to the UK government.

Foreign Secretary will visit Egypt, Turkey and Qatar in the coming days to underscore the UK’s messages.

The Prime Minister said last night: “Every civilian death is a tragedy. And too many lives have been lost following Hamas’ horrific act of terror.

“The attack on Al Ahli Hospital should be a watershed moment for leaders in the region and across the world to come together to avoid further dangerous escalation of conflict. I will ensure the UK is at the forefront of this effort.”

Mr Sunak’s trip follows visits from Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden.

The PM has called for a “calm and cool” response to the blast at al Ahli hospital.

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He urged MPs not to “rush to judgment” as Israel and Hamas issued rival claims about the atrocity at al Ahli.

Visiting Tel Aviv, US President Joe Biden sided with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telling him it “appears as though it was done by the other team, not you”.

But Mr Sunak – who held talks with the National Security Adviser and the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee on Wednesday morning – said he would not “rush to judgment before we have all the facts on this awful situation”.

At Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, he said: “Our intelligence services have been rapidly analysing the evidence to independently establish the facts. We are not in a position at this point to say more than that.”

During a visit to Essex on Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Minister said the “very heightened, sensitive situation” demanded “calm heads”.

“This is obviously a complicated situation on the ground but it is right that we approach it with a calm and cool manner, don’t rush to premature judgments, take the time to understand what’s happened, that’s what we’re doing. “

Mr Sunak also declined to back calls from more than 40 MPs for a ceasefire so that the release of hostages could be secured, international law could be upheld and medical supplies, food, fuel, electricity and water could be given to the Palestinian people.

Instead, he said that Israel had a “right to defend itself, to protect its people and to act against terrorism and ensure that the awful attack we’ve seen from Hamas cannot happen again”.

The PM said the UK was continuing to press to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and was “working around the clock” to free British hostages taken by Hamas.

Following PMQs he met the family of one of those captured.

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