The UK Minister of state for development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, has stated that longer humanitarian pauses covering wider areas would be needed in the Israel-Hamas conflict in order to deliver aid to the region.
Speaking to Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons, Mitchell disclosed, “We are discussing with the UN and other partners how best to achieve this.”
Mitchell said that all deaths of civilians “were to be profoundly regretted.”
Opposition party shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, said the current pauses offered by Israel are not enough.
Also, Mitchell revealed that the UK is considering using other options to get more aid into Gaza.
Mitchell said, “We also are urging the Israeli government to increase humanitarian access including by Rafah and by opening up the Kerem Shalom crossing.
“At this point we assess that land presently offers the most viable and safe way to get humanitarian aid into Gaza in the quantities needed, but we are also considering air and maritime options, including through our bases in Cyprus.”Andrew Mitchell
Mitchell also said that more British nationals had left Gaza via the Rafah crossing into Egypt, but did not give exact numbers.
He noted, “Since I spoke to the House last week, more British nationals and their families have left, and we will continue to offer all the support we can to those British nationals still in Gaza so that they too can cross into Egypt.”
Unusually, the UK’s newly appointed Foreign Secretary, David Cameron is not an MP, and so cannot appear in the House of Commons to address lawmakers directly himself.
Cameron sits in the UK’s unelected second chamber.
The Downing Street announcement of Cameron’s job said that the former Prime Minister was immediately being made a life peer, meaning he will sit in the House of Lords.
Mitchell insisted he would deputise for new Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron by making “regular statements” in the Commons, as he responded to concerns that MPs will not be able to scrutinise the former prime minister.
He added, “The Foreign Secretary, the business managers and I all believe it is essential this House properly scrutinises the work of the Foreign Office, especially as we face such a daunting set of challenges across the world.”
Mitchell To Travel To Egypt
Mr Mitchell also confirmed he would travel to Egypt on Tuesday evening, amid calls from MPs to ensure humanitarian aid reaches people in Gaza.
While answering a question about the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, he remarked, “Discussions are going on with Jordan and also Egypt on that very point, and I can tell him that I will go tonight to Egypt to try and further those discussions.”
On calls to commend aid workers in Gaza, Mitchell said, “I hope a particularly hot place in hell is reserved for those who murder humanitarian workers who have put themselves in a harm’s way unarmed purely to protect the lives and interests of their fellow humanity.”
Minister Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi suggested that humanitarian pauses alone would not address a “grave humanitarian crisis now unfolding in Gaza”, describing them as only a “first step.”
Dhesi, who serves as a shadow Treasury minister, said, “The damage to water pipelines, sewage pipes, hospitals, schools and other infrastructure needs to be urgently rebuilt.”
“That, I think, will require a much longer negotiated ceasefire from both sides and a release of all hostages,” he added.