UK fears ban on arms exports to Israel could strengthen Hamas |


Stopping British arms sales to Israel if it launches a ground assault on Rafah in the Gaza Strip would strengthen Hamas, Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Sunday.

Israel ordered Palestinians to evacuate more of the southern city on Saturday in an indication it was pressing ahead with its plans for a ground attack, despite US President Joe Biden’s threat to withhold the supply of some weapons if it did so.

Cameron said he did not support an operation in Rafah in the absence of a plan to protect hundreds of thousands of civilians sheltering in the southern border city.

However, Britain was in a “completely different position” to the United States in terms of providing arms to Israel, he said, noting that the less than one percent of Israel’s weapons that came from Britain were already controlled by a strict licensing system.

“We could, if we chose to, make a sort of political message and say we are going to take that political step,” he told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

“The last time I was urged to do that (…), just a few days later there was a brutal attack by Iran on Israel, including 140 cruise missiles,” he added.

Cameron said the “better answer” would be for Hamas, which controls Gaza, to accept a hostage deal.

“Just to simply announce today we’re going to change our whole approach to arms exports rather than go through our careful process, it would strengthen Hamas, it would make a hostage deal less likely, I don’t think it would be the right approach,” he said.

Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking more than 250 people hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel’s military response in Gaza has killed close to 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

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