LONDON (Reuters) -Britain will increase aid to the Palestinian people by 10 million pounds ($12.18 million) in response to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday, as he called for Israel to try and minimise civilian casualties.
Gazans have been under siege since Israel launched its most intense bombardment and blockade following a devastating cross-border assault by Islamist Hamas militants on Oct. 7.
“We are increasing our aid by a third with an additional 10 million pounds ($12.18 million) of support. An acute humanitarian crisis is unfolding to which we must respond,” Sunak told lawmakers.
“We must support the Palestinian people because they are victims of Hamas too.”
The European Commission said on Saturday that it was tripling its current humanitarian assistance for Gaza to 75 million euros ($78.8 million).
U.S. President Joe Biden has also spoken about how aid for Palestinian people is urgently needed, though on Monday it remained stuck as the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was not in operation.
Sunak said that at least six British citizens were killed, a further ten were missing, and some of those were feared dead, following the Hamas attack nine days ago.
“We should call it by its name. It was a pogrom,” Sunak said.
Sunak said that he supported absolutely Israel’s right to defend itself, to go after Hamas, take back hostages and strengthen its long-term security.
“This must be done in line with international humanitarian law, but also recognising that they face a vicious enemy that embeds itself behind civilians,” Sunak said.
“As a friend, we will continue to call on Israel to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.”
(Reporting by William James, Alistair Smout and Muvija M; Editing by Kate Holton)