Sunak to chair emergency meeting as Israel conflict intensifies

Rishi Sunak is holding a Cobra meeting to discuss the situation in Israel after days of escalating violence following the attack by Hamas.

Around 50,000 to 60,000 British nationals are believed to be in either Israel and Gaza, the Government estimates, amid concerns for their safety following the latest upsurge in violence in the region.

At least 700 people have reportedly been killed in Israel and more than 400 have been killed in Gaza, over two days after Hamas launched its unprecedented attack.

The Times has reported that more than 10 Britons are feared dead or missing.

Among the dead is 20-year-old Nathanel Young, a Briton serving in the Israeli Defence Services who died at the Gaza border on Saturday.

Two other UK nationals – 26-year-old Jake Marlowe, who went to the same London school as Mr Young, and photographer Dan Darlington – are believed to be missing.

The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to the region due to the conflict.

The Prime Minister, who spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, has promised to offer Israel any support it needs as it hits back at the Palestinian militants.

“We already have a very long-standing relationship with Israel, we’re one of their strongest allies,” Mr Sunak said on Monday.

“We’ve provided in the past the kinds of equipment that they’ve used to defend themselves over the past couple of days.

“And as I said to the prime minister, we will continue to provide – whether that’s diplomatic, intelligence or security – support, as they need.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak records a video message about the situation in Israel at Chequers
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak records a video message about the situation in Israel at Chequers (PA)

On Sunday, the US dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel, and said it will send additional military aid.

Downing Street said the UK is not planning to redeploy military assets to the Middle East.

“We do have assets already in the region. HMS Duncan is deployed in the Mediterranean under Nato command,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.

There are no plans for a UK-facilitated evacuation of British citizens from Israel, with those in need of support advised to contact the Foreign Office.

In a post on Facebook, JFS, a Jewish school attended by both Mr Young and Mr Marlowe in Harrow, said that it was praying for its former pupils.

“Nathanel Young, a 20-year old ex-JFS student who was serving in the Israel Defence Forces, was killed by Hamas terrorists on Shabbat on the Gaza border,” the statement said.

“We all feel his loss and send our love and condolences to his family. In addition, Jake Marlowe, another ex-JFS pupil, is also currently missing as a result of the terror attacks.

“We pray he and everyone else missing are swiftly and safely returned home.”

Rockets are fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip on Monday
Rockets are fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip on Monday (Hatem Moussa/AP)

His mother told the Jewish News on Sunday the last message she got from her son was one saying he loved her.

“He was doing security at this rave yesterday and called me at 4.30am to say all these rockets were flying over,” Lisa said.

“Then, at about 5.30am, he texted to say, ‘Signal very bad, everything OK, will keep you updated I promise you’, and that he loves me.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Home Secretary Suella Braverman are among those attending the Cobra meeting.

Mr Cleverly visited the Israeli embassy in London earlier as he said terrorism will “not prevail”.

It comes as Israel’s defence minister has ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip, saying authorities will cut electricity and block the entry of food and fuel.

Authorities in Israel are said to be in “control” of the border communities, with no fighting going on as of mid-morning on Monday.

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