Conservative MPs raise concerns over UNRWA links to Hamas
In a statement on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories yesterday, Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell said that the UK is “appalled by allegations that any agency staff were involved in the 7 October atrocities”. “We welcome the swift action that UNRWA has taken to terminate contracts while it launches an immediate investigation. We and several partners are temporarily pausing future funding until we have reviewed these investigations”.
He told the House in FCDO Oral Questions today that “it would be impossible for any of us to continue business as usual, given the appalling events outlined over the weekend [surrounding UNRWA]. That is why we have made it clear that we will not produce further finance until we are satisfied that those matters have been addressed”.
Following yesterday’s statement, Alexander Stafford MP underscored that “reports of UNRWA staff potentially being involved in the 7 October massacre—one of the worst pogroms against Jewish people since the holocaust—bring horror to many people, especially now that we are learning that up to 10% of UNRWA employees have some links with Hamas”. He asked the Government for assurance that the UNRWA investigation “will be independent, and that the UK Government will have input into it to make sure that the UN is not marking its own homework”. He argued that the UK Government “cannot continue spending taxpayers’ money on funding antisemitic terror attacks”.
CFI’s Parliamentary Vice Chair Andrew Percy MP, underscored that “it is Hamas who subjected the people of Gaza to collective punishment when they decided to steal aid and fuel meant for civilians, when they decided to embed their military capability in schools and hospitals in civilian areas, and when they made it clear that they intended to continue to attack Israel in the way in which they did on 7 October”.
He also highlighted the Wall Street Journal report which “suggests that 1,200 UNRWA staff are actual operatives of Hamas or other Palestinian terror groups, 23% of UNRWA’s male employees have taken part in Hamas’s military or political framework, and 49% of all UNRWA employees have family members or other relatives who belong to Hamas or other Gaza-based terrorist groups”.
CFI Officer Bob Blackman CBE MP asked “what confidence can we now have that the aid we are providing actually gets to the people who need it, rather than being diverted by the terrorists that exist in Gaza?”
Dr Matthew Offord MP noted that “in November, a report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education found that half of Gaza’s 500,000 school pupils attended UNRWA-operated education institutions and that the Palestinian Authority curriculum taught in those schools is replete with antisemitism and encourages violence”, arguing that “the damage has already been done by decades of UK funding”.
Greg Smith MP asked the Government why they did not “rethink” their relationship with UNRWA before. He noted that “10% of UNRWA’s 12,000 workers in Gaza are somehow linked to Hamas and other terror groups”, and “a few weeks ago, it was revealed that a Telegram group used by 3,000 UNRWA teachers celebrated the 7 October massacre”.
Conservative MP Steve Double highlighted that we “should not forget that… dozens and dozens of families continue to live every day with the anguish of knowing that one of their loved ones is being held hostage in unknown conditions. They do not know their whereabouts, or about their wellbeing or the conditions in which they are being held”. He called for “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas”.
UK reiterates concerns about ICJ ‘genocide’ case
Following the ICJ’s provisional ruling hearing on Friday, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office issued a statement stating that have “considerable concerns about this case, which is not helpful in the goal of achieving a sustainable ceasefire”.
“Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas in line with Internal Humanitarian Law, as we have said from the outset. Our view is that Israel’s actions in Gaza cannot be described as genocide, which is why we thought South Africa’s decision to bring the case was wrong and provocative”.
The Government also welcomed “the Court’s call for the immediate release of hostages”.
Discussing the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) hearing, in the House of Commons yesterday, Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell reiterated that the Government “had considerable concerns about South Africa’s decision to bring this case”. “Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas, and we do not believe that Israel’s actions in Gaza can be described as a genocide”, he added.
Former Attorney General Rt Hon Sir Michael Ellis MP, labelled South Africa’s case at the ICJ as an “obscene demand for Israel to stop defending its people”. He noted that “Hamas have been ordered to release the hostages, which they have not done”.
Conservative MPs raise concerns about unilateral recognition of Palestinian state
Conservative MPs have today raised concerns about reports the UK could recognise a Palestinian state before a bilateral peace agreement is concluded, prompting the Foreign Office to clarify that there has been no change to long-standing Government policy.
CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Commons) Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP argued that, “so long as you’ve got Hamas clinging on in Gaza, that doesn’t believe in a two-state solution, they believe in killing and raping Jews. So long as you’ve got Fatah barely able to control the West Bank, and Israel which is still in trauma, still trying to get 130 hostages, including babies, back from Gaza. What does… talk about early recognition of Palestinian statehood… achieve?”
Former Attorney General Sir Michael Ellis MP noted that “the Palestinian Authority’s grip on security control across the West Bank has been pushed out by the malevolent forces of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and local terror groups funded by Iran”. He argued “that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state now would risk equipping those dangerous actors… with the trimmings and capabilities of a state”.
CFI Parliamentary Vice Chair Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP also warned “that bringing forward and accelerating unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state would be to reward Hamas’s atrocity”.
Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell, in response to the questions on Palestinian statehood said that “Britain will recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace” and asserted that there has been no change in long-standing Government policy.
Greg Smith MP drew attention to the “new heart-breaking testimonies of Hamas’s use of sexual violence and rape… from survivors of the 7 October attack”, and condemned “the silence of many international organisations, such as the International Red Cross”.
New sanctions against Iran
The UK, along with the U.S., has issued new sanctions against Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The package comes after the ITV expose in December 2023, of Iranian officials threatening to kill Iran International journalists on UK soil.
The new sanction package “targets Iranian officials responsible for threats to kill on UK soil and criminal gangs who do the regime’s bidding overseas”.
Sanctions target seven individuals and Unit 840 – a group within the IRGC, named in the ITV report for coordinating threat to Iran International.
Mohammed Ansari and Muhammed Abd al-Razek Kanafani, involved with plotting the attack are included on the list.
Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron underscored that “the Iranian regime and the criminal gangs who operate on its behalf pose an unacceptable threat to the UK’s security”.
The “package exposes the roles of the Iranian officials and gangs involved in activity aimed to undermine, silence and disrupt the democratic freedoms we value in the UK”, he added.
“The UK and US have sent a clear message – we will not tolerate this threat”, he warned.
Health Secretary writes to NHS urging them to stamp out extremism
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, has written to NHS England and the Professional Standards Authority, urging “that any instances of extremism, discrimination or hate speech are dealt with in a thorough and timely manner and that those involved face appropriate and consistent sanctions”.
The Health Secretary told the Telegraph that she has “been appalled to see reports in the media of a small but vocal number of NHS staff posting extremist, discriminatory and hateful speech online”.
“This Saturday, we marked Holocaust Memorial Day and it is beyond comprehension that a healthcare professional – someone who should approach every single patient with compassion – would wish someone from Israel harm or death”, she added.
Her letter followed the revelation that Dr Wahid Shaida, leader of the UK branch of the proscribed Hizb ut-Tahrir, is still licensed to practise as a GP. Dr Shaida celebrated the 7th October as a “very welcome punch on the nose” to Israel.
The General Medical Council (GMC) have also come under fire for Dr Martin Whyte’s licence to practice with “no restrictions”, after writing on social media in April 2023 “Hahaha zeig heil hahaha gas the Jews”.
A Whitehall source told the Telegraph that “the GMC should be utterly ashamed of its conduct. Allowing an extremist who places no value on Jewish life to practice medicine in the UK is a disgrace”.
UK freezes UNRWA aid after reports of Hamas links
The UK and thirteen other countries have suspended funding to UNRWA after Israeli allegations that at least 12 of its employees were directly involved in the 7th October Hamas attack.
The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend that 1,200 UNRWA staff are operatives of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or other Gaza-based terror groups; representing 10% of its 12,000 staff in Gaza.
Findings also revealed that 23% of UNRWA’s male employees have ties to Hamas, and 49% of UNRWA employees have close relatives who belong to Islamist terror groups.
At least 12 employees of UNRWA have been linked to Hamas’ 7th October massacre, including; six UNRWA employees – whose movements were established within Israel on 7th October – assisting in the massacre of over 1200 people, two employees kidnapping Israelis, and employees co-ordinating logistics, and procuring and distributing weaponry.
Of the 12+ employees linked to the 7th October attack, seven were school teachers.
Before this weekend’s revelations, UNRWA employees have been accused of keeping Israelis hostage, and facilitating their movements across the Gaza Strip. Israeli hostages released from Gaza have testified in Israeli media that they were held in captivity by UNRWA workers. One hostage even outlined their experience being moved through Gaza via UNRWA facilities to avoid Israeli detection as the IDF advanced.
It has also been known that a Telegram group of 3,000 UNRWA teachers in Gaza celebrated the massacre on 7th October. They used the group to share images and footage of the recorded terror attacks.
In the wake of the massacre, UNRWA teachers reportedly posted messages to social media including “kill them one by one”, “leave none of them behind” and “execute the first [Israeli] on live broadcast”.
Since 7th October, Hamas has misappropriated more than $1 million worth of UNRWA aid, including fuel and trucks. It is reported some of these aid transfers are co-ordinated, and not just Hamas stealing aid.
Half of Hamas terrorists killed or wounded
The IDF has reported that half of Hamas terrorists have been killed or wounded in their operations in Gaza, including 2,800 terrorists killed in Khan Younis.
105,000 Gazan residents have been evacuated from the Khan Younis Refugee Camp, along a humanitarian corridor. 339 suspected terrorists were apprehended along the route.
According to the Wall Street Journal approximately 80% of Gaza’s tunnels remain intact.
Israel is “thoroughly and gradually dismantling the tunnel network,” the IDF said in a statement. At the same time IDF troops are searching for Israeli hostages to bring home.
Hamas’ tunnel network is believed to be hundred of extra miles longer than first thought.
Tunnel located under cemetery
A one-kilometre long tunnel, running under a cemetery, has been discovered in Khan Younis.
The tunnel, located under the Bani Suheila Cemetery, contained explosives, blast-proof doors, an office, operation room, and living quarters for senior Hamas officials.
Hamas rejects hostage deal
A summit was held in Paris this weekend in order to reach a temporary ceasefire/ hostage deal, with representatives from Israel, the U.S., Qatar and Egypt present.
A three-phase deal was outlined, with the first phase to include the release of 35-40 hostages (women, hostages in need of serious medical attention, males over 60), in exchange for a six-week ceasefire and the release of Palestinian terror prisoners. The second phase will include the release of hostages under 60, and the third, the return of dead bodies.
Hamas has rejected the deal, arguing “Israel should withdraw from Gaza first”.
Leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad Nakhala said: “We emphasise our firm position that we will not be part of any agreements that do not include a full ceasefire and the withdrawal of IDF forces from Gaza in addition to guaranteeing the rehabilitation of Gaza and a clear political solution that will guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people”.
Barrage of rockets fired towards Tel Aviv
A barrage of over 15 rockets were fired towards central Israel yesterday, in the first Tel Aviv rocket attack in two months.
The IDF reported this morning that it had struck the rocket launch site used for yesterday’s attack. Mortars were also stored in the facility.
Car-ramming, axe attack in Haifa
A terrorist from Tamara, initiated a car-ramming and axe attack in Haifa, outside an IDF naval base, yesterday. An IDF soldier is seriously wounded after the terrorist rammed into him, and then wielded his axe.
Hezbollah takes responsibility for attacks on Israel’s northern border
Hezbollah took responsibility for 13 shooting attacks at northern neighbourhoods and IDF posts yesterday.
In response, the IDF struck the sources of fire, a launch site utilised by Hezbollah to fire rockets towards Israel, and two Hezbollah military sites.
This morning, Hezbollah carried out 10 attacks on Kiryat Shmona and the Meron radar base.
Terrorists killed in Ibn Sina Hospital, West Bank
A team of IDF troops carried out a targeted attack against three high-ranking Hamas members, in the Ibn Sina Hospital, Jenin, West Bank, this morning.
Muhammad Jalmana, Spokesman and Commander of Hamas, Jenin, was killed in the operation, as well as Mohammed Ghazawi and Basel Ghazawi who have both been involved in attacks on IDF soldiers, and were planning a 7 October style raid in Israel.
In an official announcement, Hamas threatened that “the crime in the hospital in Jenin will not go unanswered”.
Houthis attacks in Red Sea continue, British ship intercepts drone
Yesterday, three armed speedboats approached a merchant ship 44 miles off the coast of Yemen.
On Saturday, HMS Diamond intercepted a Houthi drone in the Red Sea, aimed at targeting the vessel.
In a statement released by the Ministry of Defence, the UK Government said: “These intolerable and illegal attacks are completely unacceptable and it’s our duty to protect the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea”.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, in an online statement, said that “the UK remains undaunted after [Saturday’s] illegal attack on HMS Diamond by the Iranian backed Houthis”.
“Our commitment to protect innocent lives and the freedom of navigation is absolutely unwavering”, he added