Britain has urged Israel to show restraint, says Cleverly

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain remains supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself but has urged it to show restraint in any military action against Palestinian militant group Hamas in order to minimise harm to civilians, foreign minister James Cleverly said.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Cleverly said he had raised the need to minimise civilian casualties in conversations with the Israeli government.

“Restraint, discipline – these are the hallmarks of the Israeli defence force that I want to see,” Cleverly told Sky News.

“Of course, we respect Israel’s right to self-defence … We’ve said do everything you can to minimise civilian casualties. Do everything you can to prevent Hamas getting what they want, which is this to escalate into a wider regional conflict.”

His remarks, which echo international calls for restraint, came as Israel prepared to launch a ground assault in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, after telling Palestinians living there flee south towards a closed border with Egypt.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar, Editing by Louise Heavens)