During his visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps plans to advocate for expedited humanitarian aid delivery, considering direct sea routes to Gaza, as per his office’s announcement on Thursday. His agenda includes exploring strategies to enhance aid provision for Gaza civilians, UK assistance for the Palestinian Authority, hostage recovery efforts, and initiatives aimed at averting further escalation in the Middle East.
“We are working to find the best way to get aid and support to those in desperate need in the quickest and most direct route. That includes options by land, sea and air,” Shapps said.
Earlier this week Shapps said Britain was considering sending military support vessel RFA Lyme Bay to provide medical and humanitarian aid in the Middle East.
Shapps is due to meet the Interior Minister of the Palestinian Authority, General Ziad Hab Al-Reeh, to discuss the need for measures to improve security for Palestinians in the West Bank, his office said, while in Tel Aviv he will meet Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant “to address the current security situation and Israel’s next steps”.
Shapps will also visit Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel which was attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7.
Israel unleashed its military campaign in response to a surprise Oct. 7 incursion by Hamas fighters who rampaged through Israeli towns, killing 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages, according to Israel’s tally.
Figures relayed by Gaza’s Health Ministry put the death toll in Gaza since then at 16,015, including 43 reported by one hospital on Tuesday and 73 by another on Wednesday. But Reuters has since Monday been unable to reach the ministry spokesperson who has provided daily casualty updates for all of Gaza, leaving it unclear whether the new overall toll was comprehensive.