British PM Rishi Sunak expresses 'solidarity with Israeli people' in Tel Aviv

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) in Jerusalem on Thursday. Photo by Simon Walker/No. 10 Downing Street/EPA-EFE
1 of 2 | British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) in Jerusalem on Thursday. Photo by Simon Walker/No. 10 Downing Street/EPA-EFE

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived in Israel on Thursday to start a two-day visit to the Middle East for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

Speaking at the Tel Aviv airport, Sunak restated Britain's open-ended support for Israel, calling Hamas' Oct. 7 assault, an "unspeakable, horrific act of terrorism."


"Above all, I'm here to express my solidarity with the Israeli people. You have suffered an unspeakable, horrific act of terrorism and I want you to know that the United Kingdom and I stand with you," Sunak said.

"I'm very much looking forward to my meetings later with the prime minister and president and I very much hope they'll be productive meetings."

Ahead of the visit, which was announced only hours before his arrival, Sunak warned that following Tuesday's blast at Gaza's Al Ahli Arab Hospital that killed hundreds of Palestinians, a regional and international effort was required to avoid the Israel-Hamas war spilling over into wider hostilities.

"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 U.K. is at the forefront of this effort," Sunak said.


Sunak told Parliament on Wednesday that following meetings with his national security adviser and the chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the country's intelligence services were "rapidly analyzing the evidence to independently establish the facts" of the explosion at the hospital that killed at least 500 people.

He also pledged to continue "all efforts" to get humanitarian aid into the region.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told the House that people should avoid rushing to judgment on the incident because it would stoke tensions in the Middle East and community divisions in Britain.

Cleverly was back in the region Thursday after visiting Israel last week for high-level meetings in Egypt, Turkey and Qatar to try to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict and the release of British hostages and foreign nationals, the Foreign Office said in a news release.

At least seven Britons were among the 1,400 people slain in the Hamas attack with another 10 missing, believed to be held hostage in Gaza.

The foreign secretary will also attempt to secure safe passage out of Gaza for British nationals trapped in the enclave, which has been sealed off since Oct. 7.

The British diplomatic push comes a day after U.S. President Joe Biden, in the first visit by a U.S. president when Israel was at war, achieved mixed results with a planned regional summit in Jordan sabotaged by Tuesday's hospital bombing but securing agreement to open the Gaza-Egypt border-crossing to allow in trucks carrying humanitarian aid.


Families stranded at Egypt-Gaza border crossing

A woman drives a donkey cart outside the gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023. Photo by Ismail Muhammad/UPI | License Photo

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