Health Secretary joins calls for Wembley arch to be lit up to support Israel during England friendly

The sun sets behind the Arch Wembley Stadium, west Londo
The sun sets behind the Arch Wembley Stadium Credit: PA

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has joined calls for the Wembley arch to be lit up in blue and white to support Israel when England plays Australia on Friday. Asked about the idea on Sky News, Mr Barclay said: "I think we should make clear our strong support for Israel. We stand with Israel, and I think we’ve seen that with Parliament, we’ve seen it with Number 10. I think it would be fitting to show that with Wembley as well." Asked what sympathy he has with the people of Gaza this morning, he said: "The UK does have sympathy. That’s why we contribute about 10% of the aid that is distributed in the region through the United Nations. "It’s why the Foreign Secretary was in Israel yesterday talking to counterparts about the importance of minimising civilian casualties." He added: "Israel has a right to defend itself but also to deter future attacks from Gaza. So Hamas are responsible for what we’re seeing in Gaza, but of course everyone has a responsibility in terms of minimising civilian casualties."

He added: “We agree that international law, international rules of war should be adhered to. And those are the sort of conversations I’m sure the Foreign Secretary was having in Israel in yesterday. But we should also be very clear it is Israel that has been attacked here.”

It is understood the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has written to various governing bodies suggesting they pay tribute in an appropriate manner at forthcoming events.

It has not yet been determined what form the tributes will take.

The letter read: “In the light of the attacks in Israel on behalf of the secretary of state we would encourage you to mark the events in line with previous events where sport has come together.”

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, suggested the Wembley arch should be lit with the colours of the Israel flag during England’s friendly.

He told LBC radio: “I do think they should be on the arch because I think the message has to go out that we stand with Israel, the UK stands with Israel, and that is a manifestation of that support.”

The Football Association has said it is considering the issue.

Chairwoman Debbie Hewitt said in The Times: "As we get closer to the game on Friday we will give some thought as to how best to recognise our concern for all innocent victims in any situation like we have seen at the weekend."

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