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The Mayor of London said he fears a “disproportionate” response by Israel to the attacks by Hamas could lead to “inexplicable suffering” in Gaza.
Sadiq Khan also called for the Israeli government to reconsider blocking off food, water and electricity to the region in response to the killings and kidnappings by the militant group, which led to the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis last weekend.
Israel’s military has since ordered more than one million Palestinians living in northern Gaza to evacuate in 24 hours, according to the United Nations.
Speaking to the PA news agency during a visit to Medical Aid For Palestinians (MAP), a charity based in Islington, London, on Friday, Mr Khan said: “I’ve spoken to Londoners who lost family members in Gaza and Londoners who’ve lost family as a consequence of the Hamas terrorist attack last weekend, so we’re feeling the pain here.
“But we are worried about the response of the Israeli government being disproportionate (and) leading to the sort of suffering which is inexplicable.
“We’re talking about human suffering on a scale which this charity, who has worked in that area for decades, hasn’t seen.”
Speaking to an ITV journalist at the same event, he added: “The concerns many of us have is the response from the Israeli government and its disproportionality in relation to the suffering in Gaza.
“No child has joined Hamas to my knowledge. Those people who are in hospital aren’t members of Hamas.
“Of course, Israel must go after Hamas but what’s happening in Gaza is suffering on a scale which this charity has never seen.”
The Labour mayor urged the British Government to put pressure on Israel to practise restraint, adding: “I’m hoping the Israeli government will reconsider, understanding the pressure internationally, when you hear what the United Nations are saying, what the World Health Organisation are saying, and when you listen to those people on the ground.
“We should use our good relationship with the Israeli government to remind them of the importance of responding proportionately, allowing food, water, and medicine to reach the people of Gaza, and explain the unreasonableness of expecting over one million people, a population the size of Birmingham, to leave their homes and go south.
“Speaking to people here, there’s no way for them to go south.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric called the evacuation order “impossible” without “devastating humanitarian consequences”.
Tel Aviv said on Thursday its complete siege of Gaza would remain in place until some 150 hostages taken by Hamas are freed.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it was right for Israel to give advance warning of its military action so people “can move”, saying the country had a right to “go after” Hamas.
The UK has so far sent Royal Navy vessels and Royal Air Force surveillance planes to the area, while Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he had not ruled out Britain sending further assistance.