Rishi Sunak vows to stand behind Israel and protect British Jews as Netanyahu says 'the next stage is coming'

14 October 2023, 23:17

Rishi Sunak says Britain stands with Israel
Rishi Sunak says Britain stands with Israel. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Rishi Sunak has pledged Britain's continued support for Israel amid the conflict with Hamas, and promised to stand with the UK's Jewish community against a backdrop of rising anti-semitic attacks.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Prime Minister condemned the "evil" attack by Hamas last weekend, and said that the government would protect British Jews from "shameful antisemitism".

London has seen a "massive increase" in anti-semitic incidents since the start of the conflict, according to the police.

The assault by Hamas killed around 1,300 Israelis, with over hundred thought to have been taken hostage. Israel has responded furiously by bombarding Gaza in a bid to wipe out Hamas. Over 2,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to their authorities.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday afternoon that the "next stage" in the assault on Gaza is coming.

Read more: London pro-Palestine march turns ugly as protesters clash with police, setting off flares and fireworks, as 7 arrested

Read more: 'I promise we'll be there soon': Heartbreaking final text from Israeli women to mother killed by Hamas

Israeli soldiers near the border with Gaza
Israeli soldiers near the border with Gaza. Picture: Getty

Mr Sunak reaffirmed the UK's support for Israel, saying: "We stand with Israel, not just today, not just tomorrow, but always.

"And I stand with you, the British Jewish community, not just today, not just tomorrow, but always. Am Yisrael Chai."

The conflict is expected to last for an extended period, as Hamas are well dug-in in Gaza, and are thought to have a large network of hidden tunnels and booby traps.

Mr Sunak said that he knew the coming days and weeks would be "very difficult".

A view of an Israeli military camp as Israel continues to deploy soldiers, tanks and armored vehicles near the Gaza border
A view of an Israeli military camp as Israel continues to deploy soldiers, tanks and armored vehicles near the Gaza border. Picture: Getty

"No words can begin to describe the horror and barbarism unleashed in Israel a week ago. Daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, grandparents taken from people in the cruellest and most horrific way possible.

"Hundreds of people have been killed, many wounded or missing and others living through the unimaginable agony of having a loved one kidnapped and held hostage.

"British citizens were among the victims. And as we continue to learn more, I know there are families here and in Israel in deep pain and torment.

"My thoughts and my heart go out to everyone suffering in the wake of these attacks."

Many people in Gaza are without water and electricity
Many people in Gaza are without water and electricity. Picture: Getty

He also offered a message to the people of Israel.

"Britain is with you. What took place was an act of pure evil and Israel has every right to defend itself. We will do everything we can to support Israel in restoring the security it deserves."

He told the British Jewish community: "I know you are hurting and reeling from these vile terrorist acts.

"At moments like this, when Jewish people are under attack in their homeland, Jewish people everywhere can feel less safe.

"We've seen intimidating behaviour and shameful antisemitism online and on our streets with attempts to stir up tensions. I say, not here.

"Not in Britain. Not in our country. Not in this century. We will do everything we possibly can to protect Jewish people in our country.

'All civilians are of the same value', says Sangita Myska amid Israeli-Palestinian conflict

"And if anything is standing in the way of keeping the Jewish community safe, we will fix it."

Sir Keir Starmer also released a message marking a week since the Hamas attacks and backing Israel's right to defend itself.

The Labour leader said: "A week ago we awoke to the unimaginable and heartbreaking news of terrorist attacks on Israel from Gaza by Hamas.

"In the days that have followed we have heard horrific stories of the murder and mutilation of men, women and children, along with the horror of hostage taking.

"Israel has the right, indeed the duty, to defend herself and rescue these hostages. Responsibility for what has happened sits with the terrorists of Hamas; and we repeat our call for Hamas to release all hostages.

"I've met with members of the British Jewish community this week and told them that we stand with Israel and with them at this time. I know this is a distressing and worrying time and welcome the extra funding for the CST (Community Security Trust). There must be zero tolerance of any increase in antisemitism or Islamophobia.

"Hamas has no interest in peace. No interest in protecting Palestinians.

'Most Palestinians are not Hamas. Most Israelis are not the Israeli government,' says Natasha Devon

"We call on all parties to act in line with international law, including allowing humanitarian access of food, water, electricity and medicines to Gaza and ensuring safe humanitarian corridors in Gaza for those fleeing violence.

"Seven days on from the darkest day in Israel's recent history, our resolve in the face of terrorism will not falter."

Amnesty International UK said it was "deeply troubling" that Mr Sunak did not mention the many Palestinian civilians killed in the conflict, including children.

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK chief executive said: "It is right that the Prime Minister expressed horror at the cruel and brutal crimes against Israeli civilians committed by Hamas a week ago, which showed a chilling disregard for life and included war crimes.

"But for the Prime Minister not to mention the hundreds of Palestinian civilians killed due to Israeli air strikes or include any call for all parties to the conflict to uphold international humanitarian law, is deeply troubling."

Tens of thousands took to Britain's streets on Saturday to protest Israel's bombardment of Gaza. Fifteen people were arrested in London amid clashes with police.

Mr Netanyahu said in a video to Israeli troops: "You ready for the next stage? The next stage is coming."

Israel gave Palestinians living in northern Gaza a window to leave to the south by two separate routes. The country's government claimed that Hamas was blocking Palestinians in. Hamas said Israel had killed 70 people trying to flee with an airstrike.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Mali Prime Minister Abdoulaye Maiga

Mali’s junta bans media from reporting on political activities

Russia Belarus

Putin mocks planned Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland

The UK economy grew for a second straight month in February

UK economy grows slightly for second straight month, with hopes country is exiting recession

More cold and unsettled weather is on the way

Exact date Brits to shiver in wintry blast and strong winds after 'mini-heatwave' for many this weekend

David Cameron has said he is 'deeply concerned' about Iran's threat to Israel

David Cameron 'deeply concerned' about Iran's threat to Israel, as Netanyahu vows to 'harm' enemies

The DragonFire laser could come into service early

UK scrambles to get new precision military laser DragonFire into service for fight against Russian drones in Ukraine

North Korea China

Chinese and North Korean official meet in highest-level meeting in years

Harry Kane's children escaped unharmed

Harry Kane's children in 'lucky escape' from horror crash, after car ploughed into van - amid fears of ‘serious injuries’

Prince William was seen smiling and applauding in the Villa Park stands in Birmingham with his eldest son.

Prince William and Prince George cheer on Aston Villa in first public outing since Kate's cancer announcement

Music Festival Deaths

Judge dismisses lawsuits filed against Drake over concert deaths

Sir Keir Starmer has said the UK's nuclear deterrent is the "bedrock" of his plan to keep Britain safe.

Keir Starmer vows to put in place nuclear deterrent 'triple lock' in 'unshakeable' commitment to keep Britain safe

Books of barcoded Royal Mail 1st class postage stamps depicting the head of Queen Elizabeth II

Royal Mail accuses Border Force of failing to stop China from 'flooding UK with fake stamps'

Rishi Sunak is launching an employment plan which pledges to help veterans secure high-paid jobs

Rishi Sunak launches £2.1m 'Operation Prosper' employment scheme to help veterans secure high-paid jobs

Dodgers Ohtani Interpreter Baseball

Baseball star’s interpreter ‘stole millions to cover gambling debts’

Harry and Meghan are to be the executive producers of two new non-fiction Netflix series

Harry and Meghan to launch two new non-fiction Netflix series focusing on lifestyle and polo

Harry Kane's three children are said to have been injured in a multiple vehicle car accident

Three of Harry Kane's children escape car crash in Germany unharmed - after he flew to UK for Champions League clash