LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will travel to Israel on Thursday after urging regional leaders to “avoid further dangerous escalation” in the Middle East conflict.
Sunak will kick-off a two-day trip to the region meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog. Downing Street said the British prime minister is due to arrive in Israel early on Thursday morning, before traveling to a number of other regional capitals.
U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will conduct his own diplomatic push to stop the conflict spreading across the region during a three-day visit to the region. He is due to meet leaders in Egypt, Turkey and Qatar, the Foreign Office said.
The visits come in the wake of a devastating blast at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday in which hundreds are feared to have died, and amid conflicting accusations about who was responsible for the attack.
Hamas swiftly blamed the attack on an Israeli airstrike. The Israeli military denied it was responsible, saying the hospital was hit by a rocket misfired by the Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad.
In a statement, released by Downing Street ahead of the trip, Sunak said: “Every civilian death is a tragedy. And too many lives have been lost following Hamas’ horrific act of terror.
“The attack on Al-Ahli Hospital should be a watershed moment for leaders in the region and across the world to come together to avoid further dangerous escalation of conflict,” he added, promising the U.K. would be “at the forefront of this effort.”
Sunak will also call the route into Gaza to be opened up as soon as possible to allow humanitarian aid into the region and for trapped British nationals to leave.
Sunak’s meeting with Netanyahu comes a day after U.S. President Joe Biden visited the region and met the Israeli leader to offer his support.
In their meeting, Biden told Netanyahu that the hospital attack seemed to have been committed by the “other team, not you.”
In the House of Commons on Wednesday Sunak warned against a “rush to judgment” on who was responsible before all the facts on the “awful situation” had been established. He said Britain was working with allies to establish the truth.