update deskIsrael at War

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pays wartime visit to Israel

"Too many lives have been lost following Hamas's horrific act of terror," said Sunak.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak landed in Israel on Thursday amid the war between the Jewish state and the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.

“I am in Israel, a nation in grief,” Sunak said upon arrival. “I grieve with you and stand with you against the evil that is terrorism.”

Sunak met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

“You have suffered something unspeakable, a barbaric act of terrorism, as you said, we should call it what it is: An act of terrorism perpetrated by an evil terrorist organization, Hamas,” Sunak told Herzog.

“In that vein, we will stand with Israel, we will stand with you in solidarity with your people and your right to defend yourself, to bring security back to your country, to your people, to ensure the safe return of the hostages that have been taken. You have not just a right to do that, I think you have a duty to do that, to restore that security to your country,” added Sunak.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with his visiting British counterpart Rishi Sunak on Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.

Herzog thanked Sunak for visiting the Jewish state “in our darkest hour,” and made clear that “we will overcome and prevail and it will be our finest hour.

“The moment calls for us to understand who is our friend, who is with us,” continued Herzog. “And you’ve been with us from the first moment, we are extremely grateful … for your support and your decisions and your leadership in this respect, and we welcome you with an open heart.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets visiting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gidon/GPO.

‘Your courage is stunning’

The British leader is slated to travel to other regional countries in a bid to prevent the fighting from spiraling into a broader war, according to his office.

“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,” Sunak said in a statement before departing London.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed on Wednesday that a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket launch caused the explosion outside the hospital in Gaza City the previous night.

“According to our intelligence, Hamas checked the reports, understood it was an Islamic Jihad rocket that had misfired—and decided to launch a global media campaign to hide what really happened,” explained IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

“They went as far as inflating the number of casualties. They understood, with absolute certainty, that it was a rocket misfired by Islamic Jihad that damaged the hospital,” he added.

Sunak’s visit comes a day after U.S. President Joe Biden paid a solidarity visit to the Jewish state.

“To the people of Israel, your courage and commitment is stunning. I’m proud to be here,” the American president said.

Netanyahu greeted Biden at the Ben-Gurion International Airport tarmac along with Herzog and other senior officials, before heading to the Kempinski Hotel on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to hold meetings.

“You have drawn a clear line between forces of civilization and barbarism, sheer evil,” Netanyahu told Biden.

The Israeli leader said the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of more than 1,400 people in communities near the Gaza Strip was comparable in proportion to over 50,000 Americans murdered in a single day, saying it was like twenty 9/11s.

“For the people of Israel, there is only one thing better than having a true friend like you with Israel, and that is standing in Israel as the first U.S. sitting president to visit Israel in a time of war, it is deeply moving and speaks to the depth of support for Israel,” Netanyahu said.

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Israel, and French President Emmanuel Macron will also reportedly soon travel to the Jewish state.

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