Lord Cameron to issue 'warnings' to Israel over Gaza aid

Split image. Left image: Palestinians stood on the outskirts of Gaza City. Right image: Lord Cameron.
Lord Cameron said the world is 'facing a situation of dreadful suffering in Gaza'. Credit: AP/PA

Lord Cameron will use a meeting with a member of Israel's war cabinet to begin issuing a "whole series of warnings" to the country over aid reaching the Gaza Strip.

The foreign secretary's meeting with Benny Gantz, a retired Israeli military general, in London on Wednesday comes as humanitarian organisations warn of the growing threat of starvation and disease in the territory.

Delivering aid into most of Gaza has become nearly impossible, aid agencies say, because of difficulties coordinating with the Israeli military, ongoing hostilities between Israel and proscribed terrorist group Hamas, and the breakdown of public order.

Efforts to strike a ceasefire in Gaza have also, as of yet, proved unsuccessful, with Egyptian officials revealing on Tuesday that the most recent round of peace talks - which Israel did not send a delegation to - had stalled.

Speaking in Parliament, Lord Cameron said the amount of aid that reached Gaza in February was just half that of the previous month.

He also made clear Israel as the occupying power was responsible, which had consequences under international humanitarian law.

"We are facing a situation of dreadful suffering in Gaza. There can be no doubt about that," he said.

"I spoke some weeks ago about the danger of this tipping into famine and the danger of illness tipping into disease and we are now at that point.

"People are dying of hunger. People are dying of otherwise preventable disease."

He added: "So patience needs to run very thin and a whole series of warnings need to be given starting I hope with a meeting I have with minister Gantz when he visits the UK."

The United States and Jordan airdropped more than 36,000 meals over northern Gaza on Tuesday, but aid agencies say the supplies are nowhere near enough to alleviate starvation fears.

One in six children under the age of two in northern Gaza are estimated to be suffering from acute malnutrition, according to the United Nations (UN).

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, is travelling to Cyprus later this week for talks aimed at establishing a possible humanitarian corridor in Gaza, her spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.

"Our efforts are focused on making sure that we can provide aid to Palestinians," the spokesperson said.

"We all hope that this opening [of the corridor] will take place very soon."

Watch the moment that US and French military planes airdrop aid over the Gaza Strip

Where are peace talks at?

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have spent weeks trying to broker an agreement in which Hamas would release up to 40 hostages.

In return, a six-week cease-fire would come into force, while Israel would release some of the Palestinian prisoners it holds and allow a major influx of aid into Gaza.

Hamas has refused to release all of the estimated 100 hostages it holds, and the remains of around 30 more, unless Israel ends its military offensive, withdraws from Gaza and releases a large number of Palestinian prisoners.

But American officials have said they are skeptical of Hamas' true intentions because the group has refused to comply with a number of what the US and others believe are legitimate requests - including giving the names of hostages to be released.

A senior Hamas official, meanwhile, said the group is demanding a permanent ceasefire as opposed to a six-week pause and a "complete withdrawal" of Israeli forces.

The risk of starvation and disease is growing in Gaza, aid agencies have warned. Credit: AP

Mediators had hoped to broker an agreement before Ramadan, which is expected to start around Sunday March 10, depending on the sighting of the moon.

Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, often sees heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions linked to access to Al Aqsa mosque - a major holy site - in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly rejected Hamas' demands and repeatedly vowed to continue the war until the group has been dismantled.

Israel's offensive has currently killed more than 30,000 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

The military operation was itself triggered by an unprecedented attack into southern Israel by Hamas, which killed 1,200 people and led to around 250 others being taken hostage.

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