Rishi Sunak Says UK Intelligence Concludes Hospital Blast Fired From Within Gaza
Rishi Sunak has announced £20m of additional humanitarian funding for Gaza. (Parliament.tv)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told MPs in parliament that British intelligence has found the explosion at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza last week was caused by a missile fired from within Gaza.
In a statement to the House of Commons following his diplomatic visit to the Middle East to meet with leaders in the region on the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas, Sunak told MPs that evidence presented to him by UK intelligence experts concluded that the explosion was not caused by a missile fired by Israel.
"I can now share our assessment with the house on the basis of the deep knowledge and analysis of our intelligence and weapons experts," Sunak said.
"The British government judges the explosion was likely caused by a missile, or part of one, that was launched from within Gaza towards Israel."
In the initial aftermath of the incident, a number of news outlets reported Hamas claims of Israeli responsibility for the blast, leading to confusion over who was responsible. Meetings between US President Joe Biden and several Arab leaders cancelling meetings over the conflict with US President Joe Biden.
"The misreporting of this incident had a negative effect in the region, including on a vital US diplomatic effort and tensions here at home," Sunak said today.
"We need to learn the lessons and ensure that in future there is no rush to judgment."
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said around 500 people were killed in an explosion at the hospital on 14 October where many Gazans were seeking refuge from Israel's bombing campaign against Hamas in the strip.
The Israeli government rejected Hamas' claims that it was an Israeli airstrike that caused the explosion, instead stating their intelligence showed that the explosion was caused by failed rocket aiming for Israel fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group operating in Gaza.
Sunak also announced that the UK would give £20 million more in humanitarian aid funding for Gazans displaced and affected by the escalating conflict, with Gaza's health ministry claiming Israel's retaliatory campaign against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 5,000 people. The UK had already pledged £10 million of humanitarian aid for civilians in occupied Palestinian territory,
"We are providing an additional £20m of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, more than doubling our previous support to the Palestinian people," Sunak told MPs.
Sunak described the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel on 7 October as a "watershed moment" and said that the group should no longer be permitted to run Gaza.
Over 1,400 Israelis were killed on 7 October when Hamas entered Israel attacked communities bordering Gaza; over 200 people, including a number of British citizens, are currently being held hostage in Gaza.
"Let me be clear, there is no scenario where Hamas can be allowed to control Gaza – or any part of the Palestinian territory," he said.
Labour leader Keir Starmer also condemned Hamas' attacks on Israel, and said Israel had the right to defend itself.
"Hamas want Jews to suffer. Hamas want the Palestinian people to share in the pain," said Starmer.
"Because the Palestinian people are not their cause. Peace is not their aim. The dignity of human life – Jew or Muslim – means absolutely nothing to them.
"And in the light of their barbarism, Israel has the right to defend herself."
The Labour leader also urged Israel to act "within international law" and that a two state solution should remain the ambition for Israel and Palestine.
"This operation can and must be done within international law. We democracies know that all human life is equal. Innocent lives must be protected," said Starmer.
"These are the principles that differentiate us from the terrorists who target Israel
"So there must now be clear humanitarian corridors within Gaza for those escaping violence. Civilians must not be targeted.
"And where Palestinians are forced to flee, they must not be permanently displaced from their homes. International law is clear."
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