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World leaders urge Israel not to escalate to war with Iran

Meanwhile, death toll in Gaza reaches 33,797

WORLD leaders called on Israel today not to escalate to war with Iran following the weekend’s launch of drones against Israel.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Britain did not support a retaliatory strike by Israel, while Mr Sunak told MPs in Parliament that he would speak to his Israeli counterpart later in the day “to discuss how we can prevent further escalation” in the region.

The Iranian attack on Saturday, which killed nobody, was a response to Israel’s bombing of the Israeli consulate in Damascus two weeks ago, killing 11 people including diplomats and two generals. It was the first direct attack by Iran on Israel.

In the Commons, Mr Sunak praised the RAF for destroying a “number of Iranian drones” and said Britain provided “important intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for our partners.”

He claimed: “We’re working urgently with our allies to de-escalate the situation and prevent further bloodshed.

“We want to see calmer heads prevail.”

Mr Sunak said his fellow G7 leaders were “united in our condemnation of this attack” by Iran, adding to MPs: “We discussed further potential diplomatic measures which we’ll be working together to co-ordinate in the coming days.

“I will also shortly be speaking to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu to express our solidarity with Israel in the face of this attack and to discuss how we can prevent further escalation.

“All sides must show restraint.”

He laid out his three steps to “put the region on a better path,” including “upholding regional security against hostile actors … and ensure Israel’s security.”

“This is non-negotiable,” he said.

He also exchanged pleasantries with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who welcomed the PM’s call and said his party supports the “defensive action taken by the UK over the weekend.”

Sir Keir added that he supports the RAF planes being sent to the region, saying that “their efforts are vital for a safer world.”

Cypriots have organised multiple protests at the presence of RAF bases in their country, which have been used to supply Israel’s military in its invasion of Gaza, which has killed almost 34,000 Palestinians.

Earlier, Lord Cameron also urged Israel “to be smart as well as tough” and avoid striking back at Iran in response to its drone and missile barrage.

He said that Britain did not support a retaliatory strike and claimed that the attack had been a defeat for Iran, echoing US President Joe Biden who urged Israel to “take the win.”

Mr Cameron said British fighter jets had played an “important part” in shooting down some of the more than 300 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones fired at Israel from Iran, but did not provide details and avoided questions on arms sales to Israel.

On Sky News the Foreign Secretary had struggled to answer questions from Kay Burley on what an appropriate response from Iran would have been to the bombing of its consulate, or what Britain would do if one of our consulates was flattened.

The pair’s comments were echoed by other allies of Israel across the world.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Israel to “contribute to de-escalation” in the Middle East and said Iran must “stop this aggression.”

Asked whether he would attempt to dissuade Mr Netanyahu from a military response, he said there’s widespread agreement that Israel’s success in largely repelling the attack with allies’ help was “really impressive.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said Iran’s attack was a “disproportionate response” to the bombing of its consulate in the Syrian capital.

Firing a barrage of missiles and drones on Israel was an “unprecedented, very dangerous” act in the volatile Middle East, Mr Macron.

The White House said Mr Biden urged Israel to consider its response “carefully.”

The Health Ministry in Gaza today said the bodies of 68 people killed in Israel’s bombardment have been brought to hospitals in the past 24 hours.

Another 94 were wounded, it said.

The figure brings the death toll to 33,797, with two-thirds of the dead being children and women.

The ministry said many casualties remain under the rubble and first responders have been unable to retrieve them amid the relentless bombing.

The Israeli military renewed warnings today for Palestinians in Gaza not to return to the north a day after five people were killed trying to reach their homes.

The military said Palestinians should stay in southern Gaza where they have been told to shelter because the north is a “dangerous combat zone,” Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee wrote on social platform X.

On Sunday, hundreds of Palestinians sheltering in central Gaza headed north in an attempt to return to their homes.

Hospital authorities in Gaza said five people were shot by Israeli forces in the process.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the deaths.

The returnees said they were prompted to make the journey north because they were desperately unhappy with the difficult conditions they were forced to live under while displaced.

Anaam Mohammad, who was displaced from the northern city of Beit Hanoun and was trying to return, said the military was originally allowing women and children to cross.

But when a group of Palestinians did not make room for them to pass, two tanks arrived and opened fire.

Forces also threw smoke bombs, dispersing the crowd.

“People started to run away. People were afraid and could not take the risk and enter a dangerous area,” she said.

Um Nidhal Khatab, who was displaced from the north, said: “We want our homes. We want our lives. We want to return, whether with a truce or without a truce.”

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