The UK stands with you, Israel – Sunak

The prime minister has told Israel “The UK stands with you” as he holds talks in Tel Aviv.

Speaking as he arrived at the airport, Rishi Sunak said: “I’m here to express my solidarity with the Israeli people.

“You have suffered an unspeakable, horrific act of terrorism and I want you to know that the United Kingdom, and I, stand with you.

“I am looking forward to my meetings later today with the Prime Minister and President. And I very much hope that they will be productive meetings.”

Mr Sunak met with the Israeli president Isaac Herzog and will later meet with the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The UK leader is on a two-day trip to the region, and will meet with counterparts “from across the Middle East”, according to Downing Street. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is also in the region.

Following his meeting with Mr Herzog, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The prime minister met Israeli president Isaac Herzog in Israel today.

“He expressed his personal condolences for the horrific loss of life in Israel as a result of Hamas’ terrorism. He reiterated that the UK stands in solidarity with Israel and firmly believes in the country’s right to self-defence in line with international law.

“The prime minister and President Herzog agreed on the importance of getting urgent humanitarian support to ordinary Palestinians in Gaza who are also suffering. The prime minister welcomed yesterday’s announcement that Israel would not stop aid from entering Gaza. He expressed his sincere hope that further progress could be made on delivering crucial food, water and medicine.

“The prime minister conveyed his gratitude to President Herzog for the support Israel has provided to British nationals caught up in the attacks, including to the families of those who have been taken hostage. The leaders agreed to continue working tirelessly to secure their release.

“The prime minister and President Herzog stressed the imperative need to avoid further escalation of violence in the region. They agreed to continue working together to that end.”

His visit comes following the explosion at the al Ahli hospital in Gaza City where hundreds of Palestinians had taken refuge amid an Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip in the wake of Hamas’s deadly surprise attack on 7 October.

Hamas officials claimed the hospital blast killed hundreds of people and was caused by an Israeli air strike – but the Israeli military blamed a misfiring rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group and released imagery and communications intercepts aimed at supporting their case.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

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