Prince William ‘knew making plea for permanent peace in Gaza would cause controversy’ - but ‘felt he had no choice’

21 February 2024, 00:04 | Updated: 21 February 2024, 00:15

Prince William has called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war
Prince William has called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war. Picture: Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Prince William ‘knew making an impassioned plea for permanent peace in Gaza would cause controversy’ - but ‘felt he had no choice’ after seeing the death toll rise.

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The Prince of Wales caused a stir on Tuesday when he called for an "end to the fighting" between Israel and Hamas "as soon as possible" because "too many have been killed".

Prince William said he wants to see the release of the hostages and more aid to Gaza in an unprecedented statement.

The move did not go down without controversy, with some politicians, including Nigel Farage, criticising William's decision.

But William reportedly knew it would cause a stir, and felt he had 'no choice' but to address the worsening conflict in the Middle East.

In particular, the sight of innocent children caught up in conflict was what drove William to speak out, sources close to the prince told The Telegraph.

Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales reacts during a visit to the British Red Cross' headquarters in London on Tuesday
Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales reacts during a visit to the British Red Cross' headquarters in London on Tuesday. Picture: Getty

The comments were well-received by Israel, who reiterated that they also want to see an end to the fighting.

Responding directly to royal's comments, spokesperson for the Israeli government Eylon Levy said: “We appreciate the Prince of Wales’ call for Hamas to free the hostages.

“We also recall with gratitude his statement from Oct 11 condemning Hamas’ terror attacks and reaffirming Israel’s right of self-defence against them.”

Read more: Prince William on mission to fight anti-Semitism as he sets out to 'recognise the human suffering' of war in Gaza

In a statement released on X on Tuesday, the Prince of Wales said: "I remain deeply concerned about the terrible human cost of the conflict in the Middle East since the Hamas terrorist attack on 7 October. Too many have been killed.

"I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible.

Palestinian-Irish citizen reveals to James O'Brien how challenging life is in Rafah

"There is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza. It’s critical that aid gets in and the hostages are released.

"Sometimes it is only when faced with the sheer scale of human suffering that the importance of permanent peace is brought home.

"Even in the darkest hour, we must not succumb to the counsel of despair.

The Prince of Wales said he wants to see the release of the hostages and more aid to Gaza
The Prince of Wales said he wants to see the release of the hostages and more aid to Gaza. Picture: Twitter
Prince William has called for an end to the fighting in Gaza
Prince William has called for an end to the fighting in Gaza. Picture: Getty

"I continue to cling to the hope that a brighter future can be found and I refuse to give up on that."

His call comes as Israel is poised to invade Rafah, one of the last remaining parts of the Gaza Strip its military is yet to target with ground troops.

Israel is poised to invade Rafah
Israel is poised to invade Rafah. Picture: Getty

But the US is pressuring Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid another bloody battle, with the city on the southern border with Egypt sheltering scores of civilians who fled the fighting in the north.

Read more: 'Stop the fighting now': David Cameron's plea to Israel and Hamas ahead of raid on Rafah

UN estimates suggest as many as 1.5m people are there, leading to fears about the sheer number of civilian casualties any operation there would risk.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) estimates 10,000 Hamas terrorists are in the city, but there have been mixed signals about when any operation might be launched.

Iain Dale doesn't believe that Israel is 'deliberately inflicting genocide on Gaza'

It was previously reported that Mr Netanyahu wanted an offensive in the city to end by mid-March because of international pressure.

But Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet, suggested the IDF would go in if hostages were not released by Ramadan, which is due around March 10.

It comes as William meets aid workers who have helped get humanitarian support to the region.

In the aftermath of Hamas's October 7 massacre, the prince and Kate said they condemned the "appalling terrorist attack on Israel".

Foreign secretary David Cameron has said: "We are calling for a stop to the fighting right now, we think that what we need is a pause in the fighting and the hostages to come out and aid to go in.

"That should happen straight away."

Sir Keir Starmer has called for a ceasefire in Gaza "that lasts" ahead of a Commons vote on backing a ceasefire instigated by the SNP.

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