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Britain has a moral duty to help all those suffering from Hamas atrocities

(Alamy)

4 min read

Israel has suffered a terrorist assault unprecedented in its 75 year history.

The whole House stands four square with Israel as it defends itself against the recent attacks unleashed by Hamas, murdering over 1300 with the utmost cruelty and kidnapping at least 200. Amongst them, British citizens dead and held hostage.

By actively seeking to put innocent Palestinians in harm’s way, Hamas reveals a callous indifference to human life

Hamas’ actions have caused untold grief but I know there is equal anguish at the terrible suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The loss of any civilian life is tragic.

By actively seeking to put innocent Palestinians in harm’s way, Hamas reveals a callous indifference to human life. This only underlines how they stand in direct opposition to our values.

We must have moral clarity on Israel's right to self-defence while discharging our moral duty to prevent and alleviate ordinary civilians’ suffering. That is why we offered support to Israel directly after Hamas’ brutal attacks, and why we are acting to support civilians in Gaza now. 

The United Kingdom is a long-standing and significant provider of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. This year, we had already allocated £27m of funding to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet humanitarian needs and support access to health and education, as well as further support to Palestinian refugees elsewhere in the region. As a minister, I have made several visits to projects we have supported and seen the difference they make. 

We are equally committed to doing all we can to provide relief to those Palestinians now caught in the acute humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.

It is imperative to support all humanitarian efforts to get aid and medical supplies to civilians in the territory. The Prime Minister has announced a funding uplift of £10m. We have been working closely with Israel, Egypt and others to open up humanitarian access and exit routes for British nationals in Gaza, stressing the urgent need to open the Rafah crossing.

At this moment of heightened tension, we are also keeping the situation in the West Bank and the wider region at the forefront of our minds. The Prime Minister has spoken to Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, and hosted King Abdullah of Jordan in London. He and the Foreign Secretary are travelling in the region. We are working tirelessly with allies and partners to secure the release of British hostages and avoid regional escalation, which would only devastate yet more civilian lives. 

I do not wish to underplay the complexities of delivering aid in the present circumstances. But Britain’s development professionals have immense experience in getting support into conflict zones and ensuring it reaches those most in need, taking every precaution to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

I pay tribute to FCDO staff currently in Gaza, country-based staff who risk their lives to provide assistance to British nationals and Palestinian civilians. This crisis is a tragic reminder of the debt we owe to them for their life-saving work.

We also owe much to our trusted partners. We always work closely with the United Nations (UN) and their agencies, as well as charities and other humanitarian organisations who share our goal of getting aid to those in genuine need. In the current crisis, we particularly appreciate our partnership with UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, run by Martin Griffiths – the senior British official at the UN. Direct support to agencies already on the ground is often our most effective response.

This work is hugely challenging. But I am determined that the United Kingdom does not turn away from those in need, whoever they may be.

 

Andrew Mitchell, Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield and minister for development and Africa

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