Israel-Gaza latest: PM pledges to stand by Israel in 'darkest hour' as Netanyahu warns of 'long war' against Hamas

Israel-Gaza latest: PM pledges to stand by Israel in 'darkest hour' as Netanyahu warns of 'long war' against Hamas

Rishi Sunak vowed on Thursday that Britain would stand by Israel in its “darkest hour” as Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a long war to destroy terror group Hamas.

Speaking on a visit to Israel after talks with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr Sunak said: “You describe this as Israel’s darkest hour. Well it’s for me to say I’m proud to stand here with you in Israel’s darkest hour as your friend. We will stand with you in solidarity, we will stand with your people, and we also want you to win.”

Mr Netanyahu stressed: “80 years ago, Prime Minister, the civilised world stood with you in your darkest hour. This is our darkest hour. It’s the world’s darkest hour.

“We need to stand together and we want to win.

“This is a long war and we will need your continual support. There will be ups and downs, there will be difficulties, the people here are united, they are prepared to take the necessary action.”

Mr Sunak also thanked Mr Netanyahu for his country’s help in seeking to free British hostages taken by Hamas.

Key developments:

  • Rishi Sunak arrives in Tel Aviv for two-day visit

  • Israel, Egypt, US agree Gaza aid deal

  • Israel issues update on hostage numbers

  • Rishi Sunak pledges to 'stand by Israel' in its darkest hour

Key developments overnight

07:04 , Josh Salisbury

Good morning. Key developments overnight are:

- Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has agreed to open the Rafah border crossing to allow up to 20 trucks of aid into Gaza, which Israel said it would not prevent so long as the aid did not reach Hamas militants.

- Rishi Sunak is set to arrive in Israel on Thursday for a two-day visit, where he will meet the country's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Isaac Herzog.

- Mr Sunak said the deadly blast on the Al Ahli hospital should be a “watershed” moment for leaders in the region to avoid escalation of the conflict. Palestinian officials have blamed an Israeli airstrike, but both Israel and the US have said it was the result of a misfired Palestinian rocket.

- The Israeli Defence Forces have said it destroyed "hundreds of Hamas terrorist infrastructures" over the past day in Gaza airstrikes, which it says includes “anti-tank missile launch sites, tunnel shafts, intelligence infrastructures, operational headquarters and other headquarters".

Rishi Sunak arrives in Tel Aviv

07:17 , Josh Salisbury

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has arrived in Tel Aviv for a two-day visit to Israel.

Mr Sunak is expected to meet with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's president Isaac Herzog.

He will urge Middle East leaders to "avoid further dangerous escalation", saying that "too many lives have been lost" already in the Israeli-Hamas war.

Pictured: Sunak arrives in Tel Aviv

07:21 , Josh Salisbury

Rishi Sunak has been pictured speaking to media at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Mr Sunak has just touched down in Tel Aviv, where he is expected to meet Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli president Isaac Herzog.


Foreign Office tells Brits to leave Lebanon after protests

07:27 , Josh Salisbury

The Foreign Office overnight has advised British nationals to leave Lebanon, which shares a border with Israel.

Angry protests have broken out across the Middle East, including in the Lebanese capital Beirut, where hundreds of demonstrators clashed with security forces near the US embassy.

Hezbollah, a key ally of Hamas, also held a rally in the city.

The Foreign Office has advised against all travel to the country and encouraged British nationals currently there to "leave now while commercial options remain available".

Number of British hostages 'not entirely clear'

07:33 , Josh Salisbury

The numbers of British hostages held by Hamas are still not entirely clear, security minister Tom Tugendhat has said.

"At the moment the figures are not entirely clear... we are doing our best to make sure that we help get the hostages released," he told Times Radio.

He said that both Rishi Sunak - who is in Israel - and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who is visiting Arab countries, are pressing for their release.

"As you know the Prime Minister has just landed in Israel and the Foreign Secretary is visiting various nations to ask for help in these conversations and no doubt he will be able to update you as soon as he's made some advances," he said.

Mr Sunak earlier said at least seven British nationals were killed in Hamas's surprise attack on Israel on 7 October, while at least a further nine are missing.

'The UK stands with you,' PM says as he arrives in Israel

07:51 , Bill Mcloughlin

Arriving in Israel, Rishi Sunak told reporters at Tel Aviv report that attacks by Hamas militants were "unspeakable, horrific act of terrorism", as he reiterated the UK's unwavering support for Israel.

In a separate post on social media platform, X, he said: "I am in Israel, a nation in grief."I grieve with you and stand with you against the evil that is terrorism. Today, and always."

'Irresponsible' to speculate over Gaza hospital blast, says minister

08:01 , Bill Mcloughlin

It is "irresponsible" to speculate over the blast at a Gaza hospital which killed hundreds of people, security minister Tom Tugendhat has said.

He told Times Radio: “The reason we’re going to be so careful about this is that the premature speculation comes at a cost.

“Let’s be clear that the reality is there were beginning of talks promised between President Biden and some Arab leaders, and irresponsible speculation led to some of those leaders walking away as they thought that it would be unacceptable to discuss such matters after Israel had been accused of this attack.”

He added: “It now appears that that was at best speculation and at worst propaganda by a terrorist organisation.”

According to the Palestinian officials, 471 people have died following the explosion at the hospital.

Aid loaded onto to plane set for Egypt

08:17 , Bill Mcloughlin

After Egypt agreed to allow aid into Gaza, an United Arab Emirates plane is loaded with UN supplies and will head to Cairo.

Egypt has said it will allow up to 20 aid trucks across the Rafah crossing at its border with Gaza.

Aid is loaded onto to a UAE plane bound for Egypt (AFP)
Aid is loaded onto to a UAE plane bound for Egypt (AFP)

Security minister hits out at stage erected next to the Cenotaph during march

08:29 , Bill Mcloughlin

Security minister Tom Tugendhat said it was "disgraceful" that a stage was erected next to the Cenotaph at a pro-Palestine march.

He told Sky News: "It's disgraceful. To many of us the Cenotaph is sacred ground. There's a reason it matters so much to our national consciousness.

"It's not just a memory of wars past, where many of our grandparents... fought in the First and Second World Wars, but for many of us it's a very living memory to our friends we lost in Iraq and Afghanistan or indeed in other conflicts around the world. So frankly, the fact that there is a stage there is absolutely outrageous.

"I'm told the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign didn't even ask Westminster Council for permission to put it up and I'll be doing everything I can in making sure it's not allowed to happen again."

Israel issues update on hostage numbers

08:41 , Bill Mcloughlin

The number of people being held by Hamas militants is at least 203, the Israeli military has said.

The military also said that the number of soldiers killed since October 7, is at least 306.

Terror threat 'under constant review'

09:08 , Bill Mcloughlin

Tom Tugendhat said the terror threat level is kept "under constant review".

Asked on ITV's Good Morning Britain whether there might be plans to raise the alert, he said: "It's not a plan, because we don't plan for the alert to change. We change the alert according to information that we get.

"And it's not done by politicians, quite correctly, it's done by experts, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre."

He added: "I'm not going to be able to tell you much more than that, other than that we keep it under constant review."

Mr Tugendhat alluded to the King's speech on Wednesday about the need for "mutual understanding", saying the level of "division" in society plays a part in how safe the UK is.

"We are safer when we stand together, when we are careful of our language and when we are measured in how we talk about really emotive subjects like the incidents in the Middle East in the last few days," he said.

James Cleverly meets with Egyptian counterpart

09:42 , Bill Mcloughlin

James Cleverly met with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, on Thursday morning.

The pair discussed international efforts to de-escalate the conflict and to deliver aid to Gaza, a spokesperson for the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

James Cleverly meets with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
James Cleverly meets with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Grandmother and girl, 12, found dead after being taken hostage

09:46 , Bill Mcloughlin

Israel's foreign ministry has confirmed that two people kidnapped by Hamas militant have been found dead.

Carmela Dan, 80, and her 12-year-old granddaughter Noya Dan were taken prisoner in Kibbutz Nir OzIn a message on X, the ministry said: "We are devastated to announce that Noya and her grandmother Carmela’s bodies were discovered yesterday.

"Thank you to all of you who shared her story to help us bring her home. Our hearts are broken."

Sunak meets with Israeli President

10:22 , Bill Mcloughlin

Rishi Sunak met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog where the pair stressed the need to avoid further escalation of violence.

"The Prime Minister and President Herzog stressed the imperative need to avoid further escalation of violence in the region.

"They agreed to continue working together to that end," No10 said in a statement.

Mr Sunak also expressed the need for further progress on delivering food, water and medicine to Gaza.

"We are at the frontier of a certain class of civilisation," Mr Herzog said.

"We are seeing an ISIS on our border, entering in our country. It is an empire of evil that we know is led by terror."

 (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
(Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
 (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
(Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

In pictures: Gazans in desperate search for survivors

10:34 , Bill Mcloughlin

Israeli airstrikes continued on Gaza overnight with pictures showing Palestinians desperately searching the through rubble to find any survivors.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Humza Yousaf’s brother-in-law refusing to leave his post as a doctor in Gaza

10:44 , Bill Mcloughlin

Humza Yousaf's brother-in-law has refused to leave his post as a doctor in Gaza because people "need me".

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Scotland's First Minister shared a video of bloodied children being treated by medical personnel.

He wrote: "My brother-in-law, a doctor in Gaza, is spending his seventh consecutive day in hospital. Nadia spoke to him & said he should go home to rest, his response: 'I can't leave my people when they need me'.

"Health workers in Gaza are heroes."

'Palestinians are victims of what Hamas has done' - Sunak

10:50 , Bill Mcloughlin

More from Rishi Sunak following his meeting Isaac Herzog.

Speaking to the Israeli President, Mr Sunak said: "Palestinians are victims of what Hamas has done and it's important that we continue to provide humanitarian access."

Pictures: Sunak meets with Benjamin Netanyahu

10:55 , Bill Mcloughlin

Rishi Sunak has met with Benjamin Netanyahu after touching down in Tel Aviv on Thursday morning.

The Prime Minister is set to travel to a host of capitals across the region as part of his two-day trip.

 (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
(Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
 (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
(Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
 (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
(Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

Former bodyguard for Taylor Swift returns to join Israeli military

11:12 , Bill Mcloughlin

One of Taylor Swift's bodyguards for her Eras tour has returned home to join the Israeli military, the country's foreign ministry has said.

Senior Hamas leader killed by Israeli airstrike

11:23 , Bill Mcloughlin

An Israeli strike killed the head of the Hamas-led national security forces, Jehad Mheisen, Hamas affiliated media has said.

His family were also killed in the strike on their house, it said.

British-Israeli confirmed dead in Israel

11:36 , Bill Mcloughlin

A British-Israeli man, Yonatan Rapoport, has been confirmed dead after being killed by Hamas militants, the BBC reports.

Rishi Sunak and Benjamin Netanyahu hold joint press conference

11:54 , Bill Mcloughlin

Rishi Sunak and Benjamin Netanyahu have given a joint news conference in Jerusalem.

Mr Sunak said the UK will "stand with Israel" in its darkest hour and that he supported Israel's right to defend itself.

Separately, Mr Netanyahu said Hamas "are the new Nazis and the new ISIS".

"We have two forces here. One is an act of evil led by Iran which want to bring the Middle East back to the middle ages," he says.

"The other force is a force of progress and humanity."

 (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
(Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

Sunak welcomes decision to allow aid into Gaza

12:16 , Bill Mcloughlin

The Prime Minister told his Israeli counterpart that he welcomed the decision to allow aid into Gaza.

Continuing his statement at a press conference in Israel, Rishi Sunak said: "Can I also say that we have seen the scenes over the past day that have shocked all of us, particularly at the hospital and we mourn the loss of every innocent life - civilians of every faith, every nationality who have been killed.

"And we also recognise that the Palestinian people are victims of Hamas too.

"And that is why I welcome your decision yesterday that you took to ensure that routes into Gaza will be opened for humanitarian aid to enter.

"I'm glad that you made that decision. We will support it, we are increasing our aid to the region and we will look to get more support to people as quickly as we can.

"The last thing for me to close on is this: you describe this as Israel's darkest hour. Well then it is for me to say I'm proud to stand here with you in Israel's darkest hour as your friend.

"We will stand with you in solidarity, we will stand with your people. And we also want you to win."

Sunak to travel to Saudi Arabia

12:29 , Bill Mcloughlin

Rishi Sunak will travel to Saudi Arabia after he has finished his visit to Israel, No10 has announced.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters: "Later this afternoon, he is going to fly to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"We will give further updates on his travel later on in the day."

Mr Sunak is expected to return to the UK on Friday afternoon.

Over 3,700 people killed in Gaza

12:36 , Bill Mcloughlin

At least 3,785 people have died in Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry has said.

Within that number, 1,524 were children and 1,000 were women.

A total of 12,493 have been injured, health officials added.

London sees surge in hate crimes after Hamas attack

12:43 , Bill Mcloughlin

Hate crimes against Jewish and Muslim Londoners have surged in the 12 days since the murderous Hamas assault on Israel, a Crown Prosecution Service chief said today.

Lionel Idan, the chief crown prosecutor for London South, said community leaders had “never seen anything like” the explosion in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

He told the Standard: “An incident thousands of miles away can have this ripple effect. Sadly, we see hate crime across the strands, particularly with the backdrop at the moment in the Middle East. Anything from paint being daubed on doorways, right through to assaults.

“One of the saddest aspects for me is the impact on children. We have stories of people having to change their behaviours, not wearing their school blazers and having to stay at home."

Read our story here.

Picture: Rockets fly over destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

13:10 , Bill Mcloughlin

Captured following an Israeli airstrike, Qassam rockets were seen flying over destroyed buildings in Gaza City.

Qassam rockets fly over destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City (AP)
Qassam rockets fly over destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City (AP)

US embassy calls on citizens in Lebanon to leave 'as soon as possible'

13:12 , Bill Mcloughlin

The U.S. embassy in Lebanon has urged its citizens "make plans to depart as soon as possible while commercial options are still available".

In an emailed advisory to citizens, the embassy said it was closely monitoring the security situation in Lebanon.

"We recommend that U.S. citizens who choose not to depart prepare contingency plans for emergency situations," the embassy said.

On October 17, the State Department issued a travel advisory urging its citizens not to travel to Lebanon due to the "unpredictable security situation".

Israel-Hamas conflict: Ground invasion may set the region alight, writes Alex Rossi

13:27 , Bill Mcloughlin

The Middle East is seething. Israel, convulsed with pain for its dead and its military humiliated after Hamas’s murderous rampage, is on a mission to destroy its enemies.

But in doing so it may be walking into a trap and making some of the same mistakes that America did after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. You can already see and feel the reaction on the streets.

As Joe Biden shook hands with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu angry protesters were trying to trash the US embassy in Beirut. In this part of the world when something happens, the cause often has an effect somewhere else.

The widespread bombing of Gaza and the imminent ground invasion by the Israeli military may very well be the touch paper that sets the region alight. But what choice do they have? Surely, the cause of the present anguish was the Hamas terror attacks that took so many Israeli lives?

Read the full story here.

Three Palestinians killed in the West Bank

13:32 , Bill Mcloughlin

Three Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Nur Shams refugee camp in the West Bank city of Tulkarm, the Palestinian ministry of health said on Thursday.

Israeli forces broke into the camp and clashes are still taking places between the Israeli army and a number of gunmen, witnesses said.

Biden to give US national address on Israel-Gaza war

14:15 , Josh Salisbury

US President Joe Biden will address the nation on Thursday to discuss the U.S. response to the Israeli-Gaza conflict after returning from Tel Aviv.

His remarks are scheduled to be delivered from the Oval Office at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday (midnight GMT on Friday).

Mr Biden will offer a message of solidarity to both the people of Ukraine and Israel, US deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said in television interviews.

"This will also be very much a message to the American people: how those conflicts connect to our lives back here, how support from the American people and the Congress, frankly, is essential," Mr Finer told MSNBC.

London Labour councillors latest to quit party over Keir Starmer stance on Israel

15:05 , Bill Mcloughlin

Two London Labour councillors have become the latest to quit the party over Sir Keir Starmer’s stance on Israel.

The Labour leader said during an interview with LBC that Israel has "the right" to withhold energy and water from Gaza to defend itself from Hamas.

Kensington councillor Mona Ahmed resigned on Wednesday saying she “condemned the killing of innocent civilians” and “expected the same” from her party’s leadership.

Read our story here.

Pictures: Israeli soldiers patrol Gaza border

15:25 , Bill Mcloughlin

Ahead of a possible offensive into Gaza, Israeli soldiers have been seen patrolling the southern Gaza border.


World Health Organization says medical aid 'ready to go' at Gaza crossing

15:39 , Bill Mcloughlin

Five trucks of medical supplies are ready at the border between Gaza and Egypt, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, welcoming Israel's announcement that it will not block the entry of aid into the Palestinian territory.

"Our trucks are loaded and ready to go," WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference on Wednesday.

He said he hoped the supplies would be delivered as soon as the crossing opened, "hopefully tomorrow".

WHO says medical aid 'loaded and ready to go' into Gaza

15:52 , Bill Mcloughlin

Five trucks of medical supplies are ready at the border between Gaza and Egypt, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, welcoming Israel's announcement that it will not block the entry of aid into the Palestinian territory.

"Our trucks are loaded and ready to go," WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.

He said he hoped the supplies would be delivered as soon as the Rafah crossing opened, "hopefully tomorrow".

The delivery of aid is set to be the first after Israel said it would impose a "total blockade" on the narrow Gaza Strip that is home to 2.3 million people, cutting electricity supplies and halting flows of food and fuel, in response to a devastating attack from Hamas on Israeli territory on Oct. 7.

There have also been heavy Israel air strikes in the war with Hamas. The U.N. has warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Israel’s President accuses BBC of ‘atrocious’ coverage of Hamas-Israel conflict

16:25 , Bill Mcloughlin

Israel’s President has accused the BBC of “atrocious” coverage of the Hamas-Israel conflict following the corporation’s decision not to refer to Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Isaac Herzog said Israeli families had been “wiped off the face off the earth” and asked what else the BBC needed “in order for them to admit that we are dealing with the worst terrorist organisation in the world?”.

Mr Herzog told the paper: “I feel the BBC’s reporting is atrocious.

“The fact that it does not recognise Hamas as a terror organisation requires a complete legal battle and public battle. It’s unbelievable."

Read our story here.

Number of British people killed in Hamas attack rises to nine, says PM spokesperson

16:37 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

At least nine British nationals are confirmed to have died following Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel, with a further seven missing, a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak has said.

"We can now confirm that at least nine British nationals were tragically killed," the spokesperson told reporters.

"A further seven British nationals are missing, some of whom are feared to be among the dead or kidnapped."

No 10 officials confirmed Yonatan Rapoport was killed during Hamas' attacks on October 7.

2023 MTV EMAs cancelled amid ‘volatility of world events’

16:57 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The 2023 MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA) have been cancelled in France following the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The annual ceremony, which celebrates music and artists from across the globe, was due to be held at the Paris Nord Villepinte on November 5.

In a statement, Paramount said: “Given the volatility of world events, we have decided not to move forward with the 2023 MTV EMAs out of an abundance of caution for the thousands of employees, crew members, artists, fans, and partners who travel from all corners of the world to bring the show to life."

It will be now be rescheduled for November next year.

Read the full story here.

UN chief calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

17:56 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Thursday for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

"Gaza needs aid at scale and on a sustained basis," Guterres said during a press conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

He called on Hamas to release the hostages it seized on October 7, and on Israel to give unrestricted access for aid.

Germany urges Germans to leave lebanon

17:58 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Germany has become the latest nation to urge its citizens to leave Lebanon following growing unrest.

Violence between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon - which shares a border with Israel - has flared in recent days as fears grow that the fighting between Israel and Hamas could disrupt other areas across the Middle East.

The German Foreign Ministry this evening urged German citizens to leave Lebanon, which shares a border with Israel on Thursday.

German citizens were also urged to register their contact details on an online crisis portal and be aware of current safety advisories in the country, the ministry wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.It came a day after the UK Foreign Office issued a similar warning to Britons.

Rishi Sunak meets with Saudi Crown Prince

18:33 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Riyadh, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.

Rishi Sunak after landing at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday (REUTERS)
Rishi Sunak after landing at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday (REUTERS)

Rishi Sunak and Saudi Crown Prince discuss 'horrific' loss of life in Israel and Gaza

20:07 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Downing Street said Rishi Sunak and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed that the “loss of innocent lives in Israel and Gaza over the last two weeks has been horrific”, following their meeting.

Mr Sunak “encouraged” Saudi Arabia to use its influence to “support stability” in the region.

 (via REUTERS)

“They underscored the need to avoid any further escalation in the region and agreed to co-ordinate action on this front,” a No 10 statement on the meeting said.

“The Prime Minister and crown prince agreed on the pressing need for humanitarian access into Gaza to provide vital water, food and medicine.

“The Prime Minister outlined the steps the UK has taken to address the increasingly urgent humanitarian situation, including announcing £10 million of further aid.

“The Prime Minister encouraged the crown prince to use Saudi’s leadership in the region to support stability, both now and in the long-term.

“More broadly, the Prime Minister and crown prince looked forward to working together to advance areas of shared interest for the UK and Saudi Arabia, including on upholding regional security.”