The Foreign Secretary has said the UK will investigate the destruction of a hospital in Gaza City which has left hundreds feared dead.
At least 500 people have been killed after a huge blast struck the building while it was overwhelmed with wounded and other Palestinians seeking shelter, Gaza health officials said.
The Israeli military denied responsibility, saying the explosion was caused by a rocket misfired by Islamic Jihad, while Hamas blamed Israeli air strikes.
In a post on X, James Cleverly said: “The destruction of Al Ahli hospital is a devastating loss of human life. The UK has been clear. The protection of civilian life must come first.
“The UK will work with our allies to find out what has happened and protect innocent civilians in Gaza.”
It comes as US President Joe Biden was expected to arrive in Israel on Wednesday on a diplomatic mission amid growing concerns over the conflict.
The Associated Press reported that footage it had confirmed was from the hospital showed the building on fire and its grounds strewn with bodies, many of them young children.
Hundreds of Palestinians had taken refuge in al-Ahli and other hospitals in Gaza City over the past few days, hoping to be spared bombardment after Israel ordered all residents to evacuate to the southern Gaza Strip.
Hamas called the blast a “horrific massacre” caused by an Israeli air strike, while the Israeli military blamed Islamic Jihad – a smaller, more radical group that often co-operates with Hamas.
Islamic Jihad called Israel’s accusation “baseless”, while the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, dismissed the claim as “lies”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the hospital had been run by the Anglican church.
“I renew my appeal for civilians to be protected in this devastating war,” he said.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could travel to Israel as soon as Thursday amid growing concerns about the conflict, according to multiple reports.
It would follow visits by Mr Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz amid fears the conflict could spiral into a wider regional issue.
Downing Street would not comment publicly on the Prime Minister’s travel plans.
It comes after a British teenager was confirmed as one of the many murdered during Hamas’s attack on Israel.
Yahel Sharabi, 13, was killed along with her mother, Lianne, while her elder sister, Noiya, 16, and her father, Eli, are still missing.
At least six Britons were killed in the Hamas attacks on October 7, with a further 10 missing – some feared dead.
At least 1,400 people died overall and thousands more were injured.
At least 2,778 Palestinians have died and thousands more wounded as Israel launched air strikes on Gaza and cut off fuel, water, food and medical supplies from entering the cramped territory, which is home to more than two million people.
The UK has urged Israel to restore the supply of water to Gaza, with No 10 declining to say whether its ally is complying with international law during its siege.
“We continue to urge Israel, as a democracy we work closely with, to act within international law in their actions, I think they are taking steps to do that,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
Israeli air strikes continued early on Tuesday, even inside the evacuation zone where Israel had told residents to gather in advance of the expected ground assault on Gaza.
More than 900 people have been brought back from Israel and all UK nationals registered with the Foreign Office and wanting to leave have been allocated seats, it is understood.
British officials are working to secure the opening of the Rafah crossing to allow UK citizens to flee to Egypt and for humanitarian aid to get into Gaza.
Published: by Radio NewsHub