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Foreign Secretary: “enormous frustration” at arbitrary denials of aid by Israel

21 March 2024

The Foreign Affairs Committee has published correspondence from Foreign Secretary David Cameron on aid to Gaza.

The letter confirms that the United Nations has not requested that the Kerem Shalom crossing is closed on Saturdays, saying that it is the Foreign Office’s understanding that Israel closes it due to the Sabbath.  

Foreign Secretary Cameron voices “enormous frustration” that UK aid for Gaza has been routinely held up waiting for Israeli permissions. The main blockers remain arbitrary denials by the Government of Israel and lengthy clearance procedures, including multiple screenings and narrow opening windows in daylight hours. The letter provides an example of some UK funded aid being stuck at the border for just under three weeks waiting for approval. The Foreign Secretary says he is gravely concerned that any aid – including UK aid – has been stalled, delayed or rejected at the border.  

The letter says that Israel has the ability to turn the taps back on and that they should do so. It says that the UK Government continues to press Israel to allow in the fuel supplies needed for water pumping and desalination and calls on Israel to restore water through the pipelines from Israel.  

The letter also discusses the threats of unexploded ordnance and the potential for this to affect the delivery of humanitarian aid. It says that maritime corridors and air drops cannot substitute delivery through land routes.  

Chair's comment

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Kearns MP, said:

“We are watching one of the most desperate, distressing humanitarian disasters in recent memory unfold in front of our eyes.  

The UK and our allies are willing to provide aid to innocent Gazans, many of whom are women and children, caught in the crossfires of this conflict.  

Today’s letter confirms what we saw and heard on our visit to the border area – that Israel’s arbitrary denials and lengthy clearance processes are key factors in holding up the delivery of aid. It also confirms that Israel has the ability and power to turn the water back on in Gaza, and so far has chosen not to do so. If the famine continues along its current trajectory, thousands of Gazans will lose their lives. This is suffering on an unimaginable scale.  

The new maritime highway is a poor substitute for land corridors, which remain the best way of delivering a large amount of aid in a short period. Israel needs to open Ashdod port and more border crossings to enable the much-needed aid to reach the people in Gaza.  

I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for being so clear and candid; this is essential in times of crisis.”

Further information

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