Britain demands Israel 'stop and think' before sending troops and tanks into Rafah amid international outcry over planned attack on Gaza area containing more than a million civilians

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By David Wilcock, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline

Published: 07:43 EST, 12 February 2024 | Updated: 07:53 EST, 12 February 2024

Israel should 'stop and think seriously' before taking further action in heavily populated Rafah in the south of Gaza, the Foreign Secretary said today.

Lord Cameron spoke out as Israeli forces began strikes in the southern enclave that is currently home to more than a million Palestinians, including thousands already repeatedly displaced by fighting further north.

Israeli airstrikes killed 67 Palestinians and wounded dozens more overnight, while commandos use explosives to force entry to a building in central Rafah, where two hostages taken in the Hamas raid on October 7 were being held.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said sending troops into Rafah is necessary to eliminate Hamas, despite growing alarm among aid agencies and the international community.

After the raid this morning he Netanyahu vowed to push on with military offensive to rescue other captives. 

Speaking to reporters in East Kilbride, Scotland, Lord Cameron said: 'It really, we think, is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people, there is nowhere for them to go.

Lord Cameron spoke out as Israeli forces began strikes in the southern enclave that is currently home to more than a million Palestinians, including thousands already repeatedly displaced by fighting further north.

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday

'But above all, what we want is an immediate pause in the fighting. We want that pause to lead to a ceasefire, a sustainable ceasefire without a return to further fighting. That is what should happen now.

'They can't go south into Egypt, they can't go north and back to their homes because many have been destroyed.

'So we are very concerned about the situation and we want Israel to stop and think seriously before it takes any further action.

'We need to get those hostages out, including the British nationals. We need to get the aid in. The best way to do that is to stop the fighting now and turn that into a permanent, sustainable ceasefire.'

Rafah, on the border with Egypt, is one of the only regions not yet targeted by an Israeli ground offensive and is providing refuge to more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million population who have fled fighting elsewhere.

It is the last remaining stronghold for Hamas fighters in Gaza, according to Israel, after more than four months of conflict triggered by the militant group's deadly October 7 attack on Israel.

Downing Street has echoed the Foreign Secretary's calls for Israel to 'stop and think seriously'.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: 'We are obviously deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah.

'Over half of Gaza's population are sheltering there and that crossing is vital to ensuring aid can reach the people who desperately need it

'The priority in Gaza must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, such that we can then make progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.'

More than four months on from October 7, much of the densely-populated strip of land on the Mediterranean is in ruins, with 28,340 Palestinians dead and 67,984 wounded, according to Gaza health officials, who say many others are buried under rubble.

The Israeli military says 31 hostages have since died, but  Netanyahu said Monday's rescue showed that military pressure should continue.

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