Israel to face 'consequences' over WCK convoy deaths, David Cameron warns

British Foreign Secretary declines to say whether Israel is acting within international law in Gaza war

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron, centre, is shown damage caused during the October 7 attack on the Be’eri Kibbutz by Israel's Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, right. Photo: No 10 Downing Street
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David Cameron has warned Israel will face “consequences” over the killing of three British men in Gaza who died in a strike on a World Central Kitchen aid convoy.

Britain's Foreign Secretary described the deaths of seven people in a series of precision strikes on three clearly marked aid vehicles on Monday as “appalling” but declined to say whether Israel is acting within international law in its operation against Gaza.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Lord Cameron said the Israeli government knew “how serious this issue is and how they have got to get to the bottom of it and frankly make sure it never happens again”.

“When these things happen, even on a battlefield … they have consequences.”

Lord Cameron said he and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak were “entirely on the same page” on the war in Gaza.

But he would not say whether Britain is confident Israel is acting within international law, or if arms sales might be suspended.

On Friday, Alicia Kearns, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said the UK had “no choice” but to halt weapons exports to Israel.

“The government can choose to reject it, but UK arms export licences require a recipient to comply with international humanitarian law,” she told BBC Radio 4's Today show.

“And that's why emergency handbrakes, for example, exist in change of circumstances.”

James Kirby, 47; James Henderson, 33; and John Chapman, 57, all from Britain, died in the strikes alongside Palestinian driver Saifeddin Issam Abu Taha, 25; Australian Lalzawmi (Zomi) Frankcom, 43; Damian Sobol, 35, from Poland; and American-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, 33.

Ms Frankcom, Mr Sobol and Mr Flickinger all worked for WCK’s relief team, while Mr Chapman, a former member of the British Royal Navy’s elite Special Boat Service, former marine Mr Henderson and British Army veteran Mr Kirby were providing security for an aid mission on behalf of a UK-based company.

WCK founder Jose Andres claimed the Israeli military knew of his aid workers' movements and attacked them “systematically, car by car”.

A growing chorus of senior Conservatives is calling for Britain to suspend arms exports to Israel as fears grow over the country breaching international law in the Gaza conflict.

Former Middle East minister Alistair Burt warned the UK should not be part of a “continual war” in Gaza and that a suspension of arms sales could push Israel to shift to a political process that may bring a resolution to the conflict closer.

On Thursday, more than 600 lawyers, academics and retired senior judges joined the growing clamour from senior politicians across the political divide in calling for an end of UK arms sales to Israel.

Conservatives who support the suspension of arms sales include MPs Flick Drummond and Paul Bristow, and House of Lords members Nicholas Soames and Hugo Swire. Lord Cameron’s former national security adviser Peter Ricketts has also spoken in favour of a suspension.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has said it was is “shameful” to call for the UK to end arms sales.

In his column for The Daily Mail, Mr Johnson said those supporting the end of arms sales were “clamouring for us to turn our backs on the only democracy in the Middle East”.

He stated that if the UK stopped arms sales, it would encourage the UK to also end their military support of Israel, therefore “willing the military defeat of Israel and the victory of Hamas”.

Former home secretary Suella Braverman said Israel is “absolutely not” in breach of international humanitarian law. Conservative colleague Alan Duncan said she should have the whip withdrawn for her “extreme” views.

The National understands former minister Mr Duncan has since been notified by the party that he is under investigation for criticising his colleagues over their support of Israel. Investigations generally take a couple of weeks and can result in expulsion.

Conservative MP Bob Seely, who sits on the Foreign Affairs committee, said those calling on the government to end arms sales were engaging in “shallow gesture politics”.

“The reality is that we supply 0.02 per cent of Israel's arms imports, which is a meaninglessly small figure, and actually by blocking it, effectively, this is shallow gesture politics and nothing but,” he told the BBC's Newsnight.

“And it's symptomatic of the way that gesture politics is driving out rigorous thought from public debate. So, let's have a rigorous public debate, let's talk about the issues, but please, let's just drop the gesture politics because it's pretty pointless.”

Mr Seely also called for the UK to “double down” on its relationship with Israel.

UK drops more aid into Gaza – in pictures

Updated: April 05, 2024, 9:34 PM