David Cameron calls for 'sustainable' ceasefire amid escalating Gaza conflict, as Israel has killed 'too many civilians'

16 December 2023, 20:42 | Updated: 17 December 2023, 12:01

As well as the UK and Germany, The US has also expressed its discomfort over Israel’s failure to reduce civilian casualties.
As well as the UK and Germany, The US has also expressed its discomfort over Israel’s failure to reduce civilian casualties. Picture: Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Foreign Secretary David Cameron has written a joint article with German Foreign Affairs Minister Annalena Baerbock amid growing concerns over Israel's conduct in the fight against Hamas.

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The two politicians have said that neither the UK nor Germany, is calling for an immediate ceasefire, but a call for a "sustainable" ceasing of conduct is a significant shift in language by the government.

They wrote in the Sunday Times: "Our goal cannot simply be an end to fighting today. It must be peace lasting for days, years, generations. We therefore support a ceasefire, but only if it is sustainable.

"We know many in the region and beyond have been calling for an immediate ceasefire. We recognise what motivates these heartfelt calls.

"It is an understandable reaction to such intense suffering, and we share the view that this conflict cannot drag on and on. That is why we supported the recent humanitarian pauses."

The US has also expressed its discomfort over Israel’s failure to reduce civilian casualties and its plans for Gaza's future.

"Hamas must lay down its arms", Lord Cameron and Ms Baerbock write.
"Hamas must lay down its arms", Lord Cameron and Ms Baerbock write. Picture: Alamy

Read more: Pro-Palestine protesters demonstrate outside home of Israeli ambassador to the UK as Gaza crisis intensifies
Read more:
'I've seen things I will never forget': David Cameron visits Israel as four-day truce with Hamas delayed

The offensive, triggered by the unprecedented October 7 Hamas' attack on Israel, has flattened much of northern Gaza and driven 85% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million from their homes.

Displaced people have squeezed into shelters mainly in the south in a spiralling humanitarian crisis.

The politicians state: "We do not believe that calling right now for a general and immediate ceasefire, hoping it somehow becomes permanent, is the way forward.

"It ignores why Israel is forced to defend itself: Hamas barbarically attacked Israel and still fires rockets to kill Israeli citizens every day.

"Hamas must lay down its arms", Lord Cameron and Ms Baerbock write.

The offensive, triggered by the unprecedented October 7 Hamas' attack on Israel, has flattened much of northern Gaza.
The offensive, triggered by the unprecedented October 7 Hamas' attack on Israel, has flattened much of northern Gaza. Picture: Alamy

In a warning to Israel, the two foreign ministers said: "Israel has the right to defend itself but, in doing so, it must abide by international humanitarian law.

"Israel will not win this war if its operations destroy the prospect of peaceful co-existence with Palestinians. They have a right to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas.

"But too many civilians have been killed. The Israeli government should do more to discriminate sufficiently between terrorists and civilians, ensuring its campaign targets Hamas leaders and operatives."

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps suggested, to The Times as well, that such an approach would see "hostages released, rockets stop flowing and there's actually a political process in place to make sure that we get to the day after

"I'm very concerned about potentially more people dying through illness and sickness than die through even the effects of the kinetic action of the war," he said.

Benjamin Netanyahu's administration is also facing public anger after Israeli troops on Friday mistakenly shot dead three hostages.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy told LBC&squot;s Sangita Myska on Saturday that the men&squot;s deaths were "an unspeakable and unbearable tragedy".
Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy told LBC's Sangita Myska on Saturday that the men's deaths were "an unspeakable and unbearable tragedy". Picture: Handout

Samer Talalka, 22, Yotam Haim, 28, and Alon Shamriz, 26, were killed after being 'mistakenly identified' as terrorists when they approached Israeli soldiers "shirtless and waving a white flag".

An IDF official said on Saturday that "the hostages were fired upon against Israel's rules of engagement", citing an initial investigation into the deaths. Protests erupted in Tel Aviv on Friday night after news emerged of the shootings.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy told LBC's Sangita Myska on Saturday that the men's deaths were "an unspeakable and unbearable tragedy".

"The whole of Israeli society is in a lot of shock and pain today," he said. "I can say last night at Shabbat dinner when the news came through no one could speak for five minutes because everyone was stunned into silence."

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