Rishi Sunak pressed to finally back ceasefire after Gaza white-flag shooting

Unarmed Palestinian man shot dead in footage filmed by ITV News crew

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday. PA
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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been pressed on whether he will finally call for a ceasefire in Gaza, after a TV crew captured the fatal shooting of an unarmed Palestinian man carrying a white flag.

The incident broadcast by ITV News showed a group of men in Gaza gathered on a pavement, before one of them was shot in the chest.

Ramzi Abu Sahloul, 51, has been identified as the man killed in the incident.

Minutes before, he told a reporter that the men wanted to reach family members who had been left behind after the evacuation.

“I have my mother and brother in there, with about 50 or 70 displaced people in another house," Mr Abu Sahloul said.

“The Israelis came to us and told us to evacuate but they didn’t let my brother out.

“We want to go and get them, God willing.”

The husband and father, who sold children’s clothes for a living, was then shot as the crew filmed.

He was carried away covered in a sheet.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Scottish National Party Westminster leader Stephen Flynn challenged Mr Sunak on whether he will now “finally” back a ceasefire.

“I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to rise to that dispatch box and tell the people of these isles and elsewhere that shooting an unarmed man, walking under a white flag, is a war crime," Mr Flynn said.

He compared the speed with which the government had acted over a Post Office scandal after a TV dramatisation to its reaction to the Gaza war.

“The question is, will this House make sure the same urgency and intent following this ITV news report and finally back a ceasefire?” Mr Flynn asked.

Mr Sunak replied: “No one wants to see this conflict go on for a moment longer than is necessary and we do want to see an immediate and sustained humanitarian pause.”

Later in the session, Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood said: “The next time there's a vote at the UN for a ceasefire, will his representative vote for it?”

Mr Sunak responded: “Of course we will engage with all UN resolutions on their merits.”

He was also later accused of having “the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands” by a Labour MP over his response to the Israel-Gaza war.

Tahir Ali claimed that Mr Sunak had “boldly stated” confidence in Israel's adherence to international law, despite documents suggesting the Foreign Office had concerns.

“Recently released documents reveal that the Foreign Office had serious concerns about Israel's compliance with international humanitarian law and its ongoing assault on Gaza," Mr Ali said.

“This assessment was hidden from Parliament while the Prime Minister boldly stated his confidence in Israel's respect for international law.

“Since then, the scale of Israel's war crimes in Gaza have been revealed to the world thanks to South Africa's case to the ICJ [International Court of Justice].

“Therefore, is it now not the time for the Prime Minister to admit that he has the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands, and for him to commit to demanding an immediate ceasefire and an ending of UK's arms trade with Israel?”

Mr Sunak said: “That's the face of the changed Labour Party.”

Mr Ali later apologised to the Prime Minister for the "blood on hands" remark.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron had flown into Israel on Wednesday to call for an immediate pause in the fighting in Gaza, get more aid in and hostages out, and reach a sustainable ceasefire

Updated: January 24, 2024, 7:12 PM