LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said Britain “will continue to do everything we can” to get aid into Gaza as it emerged the country is discussing plans with France and the Netherlands to send shipments directly by sea to the besieged and blockaded Palestinian territory.
Israel, which controls Gaza’s air, land and sea borders, imposed a “complete siege” on the territory in early October after an attack by Hamas. In doing so it cut off fuel, water and electricity — and stopped aid delivery of food and medicine — to 2.2 million people. The majority of Gaza’s residents rely on humanitarian assistance, and before the Israel-Hamas war hundreds of aid trucks crossed into Gaza daily. Since the outbreak of hostilities, however, only dozens have been allowed across the border.
Sunak’s statement comes after the first British nationals crossed the Rafah border crossing from Gaza into Egypt, following days of uncertainty about when foreign nationals would be able to leave the embattled territory.
Speaking to POLITICO’s Power Play podcast, the prime minister said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday about “the concept of humanitarian pauses” to allow aid to enter Gaza via the Mediterranean. Sunak added the strategy was not without risks.
“It’s hard to have completely reliable conversations with Hamas when you’re dealing with a terrorist organization, which is obviously present on the ground,” he told host Anne McElvoy.
Sunak added: “I remain cautiously optimistic that the flow of aid should and will increase across the Rafah crossing.”
You can hear the full interview with Rishi Sunak here.