Letter to the Foreign Secretary about attacks on Rafah

Baron Cameron of Chipping Norton

Secretary of State for FCDO


Dear David,

The White House has said that the deadly attack on Tal as-Sultan in Rafah this weekend did not cross President Biden’s red lines. That’s the same attack in which Israeli airstrikes hit tents in a designated 'safe area', killing at least 40 Palestinians.

An Israeli spokesperson has claimed the attack was a “mistake”, yet the IDF has since launched a day time attack on tents in Mawasi, west of Rafah, killing 21 people. And since the weekend, Israeli airstrikes have targeted the Indonesian field hospital and killed two health workers in a strike near the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah. Israeli tanks have also reached the centre of Rafah city – in other words the full invasion of Rafah, where there are between 1.4 and 1.6 million people in Rafah, at least 1.1 million of whom are already internally displaced from elsewhere in Gaza, has begun.

You previously suggested that a ground offensive in Rafah would be a red line for the UK government, having written to the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Kearns MP, in February, stating that "we want Israel to stop and think seriously about the repercussions of a military offensive before it takes any further action". In the same letter you wrote that "In the case of a potential Rafah offensive, it is difficult to see how this could be achieved - civilians in Rafah are not able to cross into Egypt, neither are they able to return northwards." Since then, the Deputy Foreign Secretary, Andrew Mitchell MP,  has said "Given the number of civilians sheltering in Rafah, it's not easy to see how such an offensive could be compliant with international humanitarian law,".

On social media yesterday you said this of the attack:

Deeply distressing scenes following the airstrikes in Rafah this weekend.

 The IDF’s investigation must be swift, comprehensive & transparent.

 We urgently need a deal to get hostages out & aid in, with a pause in fighting to allow work towards a long-term sustainable ceasefire.

This statement is welcome but I agree with thousands of my constituents that it does not go far enough. So my last question to you as an MP is this: do you agree with the US administration that no red lines have been crossed or is the UK Government prepared to call out the attacks on Rafah as clear war crimes and in breach of international humanitarian law?

Yours sincerely, 

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