Government Calls For End To “Cycle Of Violence” In Israel-Gaza Conflict Amid Fears Of “Full-Scale War”
Israeli forces have launched hundreds of air strikes on Gaza amid escalating violence between both sides (Alamy)
Ministers have called for an “urgent de-escalation” of violence between Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military as UN leaders warn conflict could escalate into a “full-scale war”.
Speaking in the Commons, foreign office minister James Cleverly said that the UK government condemned the firing of rockets by forces in Gaza, and urged all sides to ensure their actions are “proportionate”.
“It is the worst violence seen there for several years. And, as the Prime Minister and the foreign secretary have made clear, this cycle of violence must stop and every effort must be made to avoid the loss of life, especially that of children,” he said.
“The UK offers our deepest condolences to the families of those civilians killed. Civilian deaths, both in Israel and Gaza, are a tragedy.”
“We urge all sides to refrain from any kind of provocation, so that calm is restored as quickly as possible.
“As we enter the final days of the holy month of Ramadan, restoration of peace and security is in everyone's interest. The UK will continue to support that goal.”
Over the last two days, over 1,000 rockets have reportedly been fired from Gaza by militant groups and air strikes by Israel’s military have destroyed at least two tower blocks in Gaza.
It has been reported that 43 Palestinians — including 13 children — and six Israelis have been killed amid the violence since Monday.
The situation escalated last week following unrest at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, as clashes broke out between police and Palestinian demostrators.
Protests have also broken out across Israel, with the government declaring a state of emergency in the city of Lod on Tuesday after three synagogues and numerous shops were set on fire.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter calling for “an urgent de-escalation of tensions”.
“I am urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint,” he said.
“The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties and we want to see an urgent de-escalation of tensions.”
His comments come shortly after UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland warned that the situation was “escalating towards a full-scale war", adding that the cost of the conflict is “being paid by ordinary people”.
“Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation,” he said.
Commenting on the situation, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran, who tabled the urgent question to which Cleverly was responding, said her “heart bleeds” for the people of Palestine and Jerusalem.
Moran — who describes herself as a British Palestinian — told MPs that the Israeli government had “ignited a tinderbox” by pursuing evictions of Palestinians in the district of Sheikh Jarrah.
“The United Kingdom has a historic responsibility to the people of Palestine, and a fundamental obligation to uphold international law. The two-state solution, promised to the likes of my family, is as elusive as ever,” she continued.
“Now is the time for actions, not just words. I urge the Government to do the right thing."
In a subsequently released statement, Moran criticises the government for failing to condemn the actions of Israel amid the violence.
“The Foreign Secretary’s media statement on the crisis focused solely on Hamas, making no acknowledgment of the role of the Israeli government,” she said.
“Neither was there any recognition of the provocative timing of these attacks, during Ramadan.
She continued: “It is vital that, along with full de-escalation, international pressure is put on both the Israeli government and Hamas to abide by their commitments under international law.”
Numerous MPs have also written to the government urging ministers to take further action, including shadow rail minister Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Shadow Minister for Local Government Kate Hollern, SNP MP Steven Bonnar and Labour MP Liam Byrne.
In a statement published on Monday, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy condemned the "appalling" attacks on Gaza by Israeli forces.
“Reports that Israeli air strikes on Gaza have killed multiple civilians, including children, are shocking. This is appalling," she said.
"Along with the rocket attacks launched by Hamas, we condemn all actions that endanger civilians in the strongest possible terms."