Cameron calls for ‘swift probe’ into Israeli airstrikes on Rafah

The Foreign Secretary has called for a swift investigation into Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza city of Rafah at the weekend.

Lord Cameron was speaking after the deadly strikes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were a “tragic mishap” and the country’s military said it was investigating.

Lord Cameron said on X, formerly Twitter: “Deeply distressing scenes following the airstrikes in Rafah this weekend.

“The IDF’s investigation must be swift, comprehensive & transparent.

“We urgently need a deal to get hostages out & aid in, with a pause in fighting to allow work towards a long-term sustainable ceasefire.”

A Downing Street spokesman referred to Lord Cameron’s statement and the Prime Minister’s previous stance on the conflict.

“As we’ve said previously, the UK would not support a major military operation in Rafah unless we see a plan to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians who remain there,” the spokesman said, adding that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made this point to Mr Netanyahu.

“Our focus is on finding the fastest way to end this conflict, which is to secure a deal which gets the hostages out and allows for a pause in the fighting.

“And so our focus is working with international partners to get that pause in the fighting and then turn that pause into a long-term sustainable ceasefire.”

On the campaign trail at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the scenes in Rafah as “just horrifying”.

He said: “This is our message: that ceasefire needs to be in place, it needs to be in place straight away, and it needs to provide the space for hostages to come out. There are hostages who have been held for a very, very long time. I can’t even imagine the state that they will be in.

“I know the state their families are in, or some of them, because I’ve met their families and it is horrendous. But also aid needs to get in – desperately needed aid.”

Sir Keir added: “In the end, this is only going to be resolved through a political process. That is going to require leadership from countries, including from ours if we are privileged enough to come in to serve, to create that space and dialogue as we go forward.

“It will require the recognition of Palestine as a viable state as part of the process, alongside a safe and secure Israel.”

He added: “We would see it as our solemn duty for the UK to play its full part in that if we are privileged enough to come in to serve, because I think too many political leaders in the last 10 years have looked away from this problem, even though they’ve known it’s there, not wanting to pull their weight.”

Some of Israel’s closest allies, including the United States, have criticised the country over its war with Hamas.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said he will apply for arrest warrants for Mr Netanyahu, defence minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas leaders Yehya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh.

Amnesty International said the Foreign Secretary should get behind the ICC and International Court of Justice’s efforts to examine Israeli actions in Gaza.

“You’d have to be totally detached from reality to expect that the IDF will adequately investigate Sunday’s attack,” Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive, said.

He said Lord Cameron should “drop the pretence” that Israeli authorities can undertake an impartial investigation of whether they have breached international law.

He added: “There is an alarming sense that the UK government is – by being disingenuous at best – supporting a wall of impunity protecting Israeli forces when they carry out human rights violations.”