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Politics / MP calls for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael.

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to allow aid to reach Palestinian civilians and to support the release of Israeli hostages taken after Hamas’ attacks.

Speaking in parliament during foreign office questions on Tuesday, the Orkney and Shetland MP said the French government was calling for a truce and urged the UK government to back the initiative.

His comments came before the developing controversy over comments made last night by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Here is in full what Guterres actually said: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2023-10-24/secretary-generals-remarks-the-security-council-the-middle-east%C2%A0

More than 1,400 people were killed in the attacks on Israel by Hamas gunmen who raided communities near the border, targeting civilians, and more than 200 hostages abducted by Hamas continue to be held in Gaza.

Israel has continued heavy bombing of Gaza since the attacks, and the Hamas-run health ministry claims that almost 5,800 people have been killed in Gaza since 7 October.

Meanwhile, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has warned it would be forced to halt its humanitarian operations in Gaza due to a lack of fuel as of Wednesday night.

Carmichael said: “The government of France have announced [on Tuesday] that they are sending their foreign minister to the United Nations security council to argue for a humanitarian truce in Gaza, which in their words would be capable of leading to a ceasefire and necessary for the distribution of aid to civilian populations.

“It would also allow the focus to concentrate on the release of hostages, which I would have thought would commend itself also to the Government of Israel. Will the government support [this]?”

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Foreign secretary James Cleverly MP said in response: “I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we are trying to find every avenue to alleviate humanitarian suffering.

“We will be represented at senior ministerial level at the Security Council later today. We want to take action that will actually deliver aid and support to the Palestinian people who are suffering in Gaza.”

Mr Carmichael added: “Israel of course has the right to defend itself against the terrorism of Hamas. Even so we need to recognise that enormous numbers of Palestinian civilians are being caught up in this crisis and must be supported as well.

“A conflict of this kind will not ultimately have a military solution. The United Kingdom has to play its part in supporting a humanitarian ceasefire, in order to protect civilians and get Israeli hostages in Gaza out.”

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, first minister Humza Yousaf – whose in-laws are stuck in Gaza – reiterated calls for a ceasefire.

Around 20 islanders gathered at Lerwick Town Hall at the weekend to show solidarity with the civilians caught up in the conflict and to call an immediate ceasefire to allow more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

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