British PM Sunak visits Israel, warns against Gaza war escalation

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived in Israel on Thursday to show solidarity with a nation still grappling with the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants. His visit also includes discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As Israel’s military response to Hamas in Gaza continues, Sunak is set to convey his condolences for the loss of life in both Israel and the Palestinian territory. His office emphasized his intention to caution against further escalation.

“Above all, I’m here to express my solidarity with the Israeli people. You have endured an unspeakable, horrific act of terrorism, and I want you to know that the United Kingdom and I stand with you,” Sunak stated to Israeli reporters upon his arrival.

After his visit to Israel, Sunak was scheduled to visit other key regional capitals.

In an initial statement, he pointed to a recent Gaza hospital explosion that resulted in numerous Palestinian casualties as a potential turning point for regional and global leaders to come together to prevent further dangerous conflict escalation. He also noted that the UK would play a prominent role in such efforts.

Sunak’s agenda includes advocating for the swift opening of a humanitarian aid route from Egypt into Gaza and facilitating the evacuation of British citizens trapped in Gaza.

“Every civilian death is a tragedy, and too many lives have been lost in the wake of Hamas’ terrible act of terror,” Sunak remarked.

On Wednesday, Sunak’s spokesperson confirmed that at least seven British nationals had been killed, and nine remained unaccounted for since the attack in Israel.

Concurrently with Sunak’s visit, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who had visited Israel the previous week, is embarking on a tour to Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar over the next three days. His mission is to engage in discussions regarding the ongoing conflict and seek a peaceful resolution, as stated by his office.

Britain has identified these three nations as crucial to international efforts aimed at maintaining regional stability, securing the release of hostages, and allowing humanitarian access to Gaza.

Cleverly is expected to meet with senior leaders in these countries to explore ways to prevent the spread of the conflict, expedite the opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt for aid delivery to those in need, and advocate for the release of hostages held by Hamas, according to the UK government.