Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron will meet with Palestinian leaders and commit a further £30 million in aid for people in Gaza following the announcement of a truce in the conflict in the Middle East.
The former prime minister is urging “all parties to continue to work towards the release of every hostage” after holding talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog during a visit to Israel on Thursday.
On Friday he will be in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, meeting Palestinian leaders and agencies delivering aid in Gaza advocating adherence to the new agreement on all sides.
It was confirmed that the ceasefire will begin on Friday morning from 7am local time, with aid “going in as soon as possible”, according to Qatari officials.
The first set of civilians held captive by Hamas are expected to be freed at about 4pm on Friday local time, including 13 women and children.
Lord Cameron said: “We are hopeful that today will see the release of hostages, and I am urging all parties to continue to work towards the release of every hostage. A pause will also allow access for life-saving aid to the people of Gaza.
“I am proud that a fourth UK flight carrying critical supplies landed in Egypt today, and I can announce new £30 million of funding which will be spent on vital aid such as shelter and medical provisions.
“It is vital to protect civilians from harm, and we are urgently looking at all avenues to get aid into Gaza, including land, maritime and air routes.”
The agreement for a four-day ceasefire in Gaza appeared to have hit a last-minute snag, with Lord Cameron telling Mr Netanyahu that he wanted all parties to the agreement to “make it happen”.
There are hopes that the lull in the fighting will clear the way for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza to ease the suffering of citizens who have been bombarded and besieged by Israel as it attacks Hamas in response to the October 7 atrocities.
Lord Cameron, who earlier visited Kibbutz Be’eri, scene of some of the worst violence during the Hamas assault, said: “There is never any excuse for this sort of hostage-taking.
“All the hostages should be released, but I hope that everyone who is responsible and behind this agreement can make it happen, to bring relief to those families, including, of course, there are British nationals who have been taken hostage.”
Mr Netanyahu said Israel would “continue with the goals of the war and we will eradicate Hamas”.
“There is no hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab countries if we do not eradicate this murderous movement, which threatens the future of all of us,” he told the Foreign Secretary.
The announcement of additional UK funding comes as the fourth British aircraft carrying humanitarian aid landed in Al Arish, Egypt, for onward transfer to Gaza.
The RAF flight carried 23 tonnes of humanitarian aid, including 4,500 blankets and 4,500 sleeping mats for distribution by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The RAF continues to deliver on the UK’s commitment to helping those in need by operating flights into the region to provide urgent humanitarian support which will save civilian lives.
“The UK is driving international efforts to support the humanitarian response in Gaza, working closely alongside partners and allies to de-escalate the situation.”
Lord Cameron’s visit comes a day after he met counterparts from Arab and Islamic countries – including the Palestinian Authority – at Lancaster House in London to discuss the Middle East crisis.
Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and Nigeria, as well as the secretary general of the League of Arab States, and the ambassador of Qatar, attended the event.
Lord Cameron said the group discussed how to use the planned pause in the Israel-Hamas fighting to consider “how we can build a peaceful future which provides security for Israel but also peace and stability for the Palestinian people”.