Rishi Sunak: four-day pause is only the first step to releasing hostages

Rishi Sunak welcomed the “critical” temporary truce in the Israel-Hamas conflict but said it was only the “first step” towards seeing the release of all hostages.

The four-day pause in fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas began early today, after the terror group pledged to free 50 of the around 240 hostages in return for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

The Prime Minister said the UK will work with partners in the region to “make sure that this deal sticks”, amid expectations it will see more life-saving humanitarian aid enter Gaza.

He said: “We’ve consistently pushed for sustained humanitarian pauses so that we could get more aid into Gaza and get hostages out, so this is a very welcome development.

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It’s obviously the first step. We need to make sure everyone abides by the terms of the agreement and we want to see all hostages released, including protecting the safety of British nationals that are involved.”

He thanked Qatar and Egypt for the intensive weeks-long diplomacy in helping to secure the deal.

Mr Sunak added: “We’re continuing to work with all our partners in the region, whether that’s America, Israel and Egypt and others to make sure that this deal sticks and we can continue to do what we want to support everyone in Gaza, get more aid in and to ensure the safety and release of all hostages.

“So it’s a very welcome step, something that we’ve been pushing hard for and working with partners on, so I’m glad that this has come to fruition.”

Lord Cameron after meeting Palestinian leaders plans to commit another £30 million in aid for the people of Gaza.

It will provide shelter and medical provisions with a fourth British aircraft carrying 23 tonnes of critical supplies including blankets and sleeping mats landing in Egypt.

The Foreign Secretary has urged “all parties to continue to work towards the release of every hostage” after holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog during a visit to Israel on Thursday.

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