Russia says attack foiled in south of country: agencies

Russia says attack foiled in south of country: agencies
Russia says attack foiled in south of country: agencies

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: More than 115 MPs in the UK have demanded a series of government measures to safeguard Palestinian civilians in Gaza and place new political pressure on Israel.

In a letter to Foreign Secretary David Cameron dated March 29, backbench parliamentarians from all parties urged the government to take immediate action over the “alarming” situation in Gaza.

Among the demands are the full restoration of UK funding to UNRWA, as well as renewed political pressure on Israel to enable the unimpeded access of humanitarian aid into the enclave.

“Turning the taps back on” in the enclave is “vital,” the letter says, warning that Israel should suffer “diplomatic consequences” if it fails to abide by international law.

The government should also demand that “Israel must not use starvation as a weapon of war” and abide by the provisional measures set by the International Court of Justice in January this year, the letter says.

Any shift in British foreign policy toward Israel must include a deadline that, if passed without changes, would result in “serious consequences” for the relationship between the two countries.

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, described the letter as a potential “turning point” in the UK’s relationship with Israel.

Since the outbreak of violence on Oct. 7, grassroots political campaigns across the UK have sought to pressure the government into calling for a ceasefire and condemning Israel’s war.

The letter is “evidence of huge anger in political circles” in the UK, Doyle added, warning that it also represented a failure of the government to represent the views of the electorate.

But government communication is fast changing tone in statements regarding the Israel-Hamas war, he said.

The letter warns that the UK’s own efforts to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza have been compromised by Israel.

“It is alarming that Israel has delayed UK aid into Gaza by delaying permissions to cross the border and by preventing the necessary staff from obtaining visas,” it says.

“Further UK pressure on the Israeli government to let aid in, open the Port of Ashdod, and ‘turn the taps back on’ in Gaza is vital.”

The civilian population in the enclave is “on the brink of famine,” the letter adds, warning that the threshold for famine may already have been met in northern sections of Gaza, with 27 children and three adults having fallen victim to starvation or dehydration.

“People have resorted to eating bird seed, animal feed and grass … and digging down into the soil to access water pipes for drinking and washing,” the letter warns.

The UK government, in an earlier response to an MP, officially blamed the failure of humanitarian aid reaching Gaza on “arbitrary denials by the Israeli government.”

The government warned in February that Israel would be in breach of international humanitarian law if it denied food and water to the enclave.

The letter also follows a significant vote in the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with the UK voting in favor.

A looming invasion of Rafah has forced the UK government to change its language and tone toward Israel, said Doyle.

Any incursion into the southernmost area of Gaza, where almost the entire population of the enclave is now sheltering, would result in a “reaction” from the UK and European powers, he added.

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