Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

At least six British citizens were killed in Hamas’s attack on Israel and a further 10 are missing, Rishi Sunak has told MPs.

The prime minister described the events of last Saturday as a “pogrom” – an act of organised torture or killing of a large group of people on the basis of their race or religion.

Giving an update in the House of Commons, he said that overall, more than 1,400 people were murdered, over 3,500 wounded and almost 200 taken hostage.

He said that included the elderly and babies who were “murdered, mutilated, burned alive”.

“We should call it by its name: it was a pogrom,” the prime minister said.

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Mr Sunak said the “terrible nature of these attacks means it is proving difficult to identify many of the deceased” but at least six Britons were killed.

“A further 10 are missing, some of whom are feared to be among the dead,” he added.

The prime minister said the relatives of some of the missing were in Parliament watching his statement and the UK is working with Israel to establish the facts and support them through their “unimaginable pain”.

On action the UK is taking, he said eight flights so far have brought back 500 British nationals from Israel, with more leaving in the coming hours.

He said the UK must “support absolutely Israel’s right to defend itself” in targeting Hamas and rescuing hostages from Gaza within international law.

But he also recognised that the Palestinian people are “victims of Hamas too” as he announced an extra £10 million of aid funding.

He said that Hamas is using Palestinians as human shields and 2,600 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory airstrikes by Israel.

“We mourn the loss of every innocent life”, the prime minister said.

It comes amid growing concern about the humanitarian situation unfolding in Gaza.

The UN has warned that hospitals across the strip are expected to run out of fuel within 24 hours.

Israel, which controls almost all crossings into the area, has ramped up already strict blockades until hostages are released, while hundreds of tonnes of aid from several countries have been held up in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for days pending a deal for its safe delivery to Gaza.

Israel launched its airstrikes in the aftermath of the surprise attack by Hamas on 7 October.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said an “acute humanitarian crisis” is now unfolding and Israel’s defence “must be conducted in accordance with international law – civilians must not be targeted”.

He called for humanitarian access and corridors to opened – including allowing food, water, electricity and medicines in for hospitals to use.

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