Israel war: hospital bombing 'likely caused' by missile launched from Gaza, Rishi Sunak says

The explosion at the al Ahli Hospital - which reportedly killed around 500 people - has been the subject of international debate.
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The explosion at the al Ahli hospital in Gaza was “likely caused” by a missile launched from within Gaza towards Israel, Rishi Sunak has said.

The blast, which Palestinian authorities say has killed around 500 people, has been the subject of intense international debate. Officials in Gaza said the explosion was caused by an Israel Defence Forces air strike, however the IDF provided images and graphics which it said showed it was from a misfiring rocket from the Gaza Islamist militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The UK's intelligence and security forces have been analysing the incident, and today (23 October) Sunak told the House of Commons that the explosion was "likely caused" by a missile from Gaza. He said: “As I indicated last week, we have taken care to look at all the evidence currently available.

“I can now share our assessment with the House. On the basis of the deep knowledge and analysis of our intelligence and weapons experts, the British Government judges that the explosion was likely caused by a missile or part of one that was launched from within Gaza towards Israel. The misreporting of this incident had a negative effect in the region, including on a vital US diplomatic effort, and the tensions here at home."

US President Joe Biden sided with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s assessment of the tragedy during his visit to Tel Aviv. Sunak has just returned from the region after meetings with Netanyahu, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

The scene at Al Ahli Hospital Gaza after an explosion. Credit: Middle East Images/AFP via GettyThe scene at Al Ahli Hospital Gaza after an explosion. Credit: Middle East Images/AFP via Getty
The scene at Al Ahli Hospital Gaza after an explosion. Credit: Middle East Images/AFP via Getty

More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed in the conflict, with the initial Hamas attack the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 4,300 Palestinians have been killed, AP reports. The IDF has urged Palestinians to move south ahead of a potential ground invasion by Israel.

The Prime Minister said the UK was deploying RAF and Royal Navy assets to monitor the situation, which has threatened to spill into other parts of the Middle East. He also announced in the Commons a further £20 million package of aid for Palestinians.

Sunak said: "We have already committed £10 million of extra support to help civilians in Gaza. And I can announce today that we are going further. We are providing an additional £20 million of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. More than doubling our previous support to the Palestinian people.”

The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK is committed to finding a two state solution. He said: “Our support for a two-state solution is highly valued across the region, but it can’t be a cliched talking point to roll out at times like this. The truth is that in recent years, energy has moved into other avenues like the Abraham Accords and normalisation talks with Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (centre left) arriving for a visit to Saudi Arabia. PIC: Saudi Press Agency/PA WirePrime Minister Rishi Sunak (centre left) arriving for a visit to Saudi Arabia. PIC: Saudi Press Agency/PA Wire
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (centre left) arriving for a visit to Saudi Arabia. PIC: Saudi Press Agency/PA Wire

“We support those steps absolutely and believe that they can bolster wider efforts. But we must never lose sight of how essential the two-state solution is. So we will work together with out international partners to bring renewed energy and creativity to this effort.”

Sunak added: “It will rely on establishing more effective governance for Palestinian territories in Gaza and the West Bank, it will also mean challenging actions that undercut legitimate aspirations for Palestinian statehood.”

Sir Keir Starmer reinforced the two-state solution as well. he said: "In the light of their barbarism, Israel has the right to defend herself. Yes, to get their hostages home but also to defeat Hamas so nobody need suffer like this again. And that we might once more see a road to a lasting peace, a Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel."

And following limited access for aid at the Rafah crossing with Egypt, Starmer called for "clear humanitarian corridors within Gaza for those escaping violence". He told the Commons: "Civilians must not be targeted. And where Palestinians are forced to flee, they must not be permanently displaced from their homes. International law is clear.

"It also means basic services including water, electricity, and the fuel needed for it, cannot be denied. Hamas may not care for the safety and security of the Palestinian people, but we do. We cannot and will not close our eyes to their suffering. Gaza is now a humanitarian emergency. There is not enough food. Clean water is running out. Hospitals are going without medicine and electricity. People starving and reduced to drinking contaminated filth. Babies lying in incubators that could switch off at any moment."

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