LONDON : British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Sunday demanded an unconditional ceasefire to resolve the ‘intolerable’ situation in Gaza, adding that the British public was ‘deeply disturbed’ by what it was seeing.
Hammond, who took over from William Hague last month, told the Sunday Telegraph that the killing had to stop, having already said he was ‘gravely concerned’ by the number of civilian casualties from Israel’s military operation in Gaza. ‘The British public has a strong sense that the situation of the civilian population in Gaza is intolerable and must be addressed - and we agree with them,’ he told the newspaper.
‘It’s a broad swathe of British public opinion that feels deeply disturbed by what it is seeing on its television screens,’ he added. The former defence minister acknowledged the concerns of both Hamas and Israel, but insisted that they could not be allowed to stand in the way of a humanitarian ceasefire.
‘We have to get the killing to stop,’ he told the paper. An Israeli army spokesman on Sunday told AFP that it had begun withdrawing some ground troops from the Gaza Strip and redeploying others, but operations against Hamas would continue. His remarks came a day after the Israeli army gave a first indication it was ending parts of the operation, which has so far claimed more than 1,700 lives. The office of British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday accused opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband of ‘playing politics’ after he criticised Cameron’s ‘silence’ over Israel’s actions.