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Border force teams are poised to rescue 200 Britons trapped in Gaza as Rishi Sunak pushes for a pause in the fighting to allow aid to reach besieged Palestinians


  • PM sends Border Force to Egypt to evacuate Britons trapped in Gaza warzone
  • Around 200 Brits contacted Foreign Office for help in advance of the invasion 

Rishi Sunak has sent Border Force teams to Egypt to help evacuate Britons still trapped in Gaza.

The Prime Minister is also pushing for a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas to allow aid to reach besieged Palestinians.

Around 200 British citizens have contacted the Foreign Office for help in advance of Israel’s expected invasion of Gaza, Mr Sunak said.

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is the only border point in the territory that is not controlled by Israel.

Israel has agreed to allow aid through the crossing but it remains closed to people.

Rishi Sunak (pictured) has sent Border Force teams to Egypt to help evacuate Britons still trapped in Gaza

Rishi Sunak (pictured) has sent Border Force teams to Egypt to help evacuate Britons still trapped in Gaza

Palestinians recover the body of a person from under the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 26

Palestinians recover the body of a person from under the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 26

People in Gaza gather in the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on the region

People in Gaza gather in the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on the region 

Cairo has reportedly blamed Israeli attacks around Rafah for the border point not being open to foreign nationals.

British Jews feel worst fear since 1945, says Chief Rabbi

Britain’s Jewish community is experiencing fear ‘we haven’t had since 1945’, the Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth has said.

In unprecedented comments, Ephraim Mirvis said the ‘pain runs very deep’ after the Hamas terrorist attacks.

He warned the rise in anti-Semitism had left Jewish people feeling a level of fear they had not experienced since the end of the Second World War.

The Chief Rabbi told ITV News: ‘That pain runs very deep. The fear that’s running through the Jewish community now I think we haven’t had since 1945. And we have gone through many challenges since that time.

‘Certainly, it is palpable right now and it is shared by so many good people in this country who very much identity with that suffering and to whom we feel indebted.’ Speaking of the wave of pro-Palestinian protests in the UK, he added: ‘There is a lot of anxiety and seeing so many thousands of people on the streets openly supporting the Hamas terrorists certainly has caused a lot of anxiety within our community.

‘We are fortunate to have the full support of our government and police forces at this time.’

The Chief Rabbi added: ‘It would be helpful if some parts of the media would give a more balanced, accurate and fair assessment and presentation of what it is happening.

‘And we can benefit more from some of our friends who have been silent until now – and whose silence is quite deafening – together with greater efforts to ensure that those who are supporting evil on the streets of Britain will be dealt with in an appropriate way for a great country such as ours.’

It comes after the BBC received widespread criticism for failing to call Hamas a terrorist group.

Air strikes have devastated parts of Gaza and the United Nations has warned it is on the verge of running out of fuel in the enclave. Mr Sunak yesterday repeated calls for temporary breaks or ‘specific pauses’ in the violence that could allow British nationals and hostages to be freed.

Fewer than five Britons are believed to be among the hostages and officials fear that some of those missing have been killed.

But many more are trapped in Gaza as Israel continues to conduct air strikes and raids in its fightback against Hamas. Mr Sunak told a press conference in London: ‘In terms of evacuating nationals from Gaza it’s a complex situation.

‘There’s around 200 the Foreign Office is in contact with. We have been for a while, and obviously that’s been a feature of all my engagement in the region and with leaders, particularly in Egypt and Israel. We’re very keen to be able to bring them out and bring them home.’

The Prime Minister said the Government had ‘pre-positioned Border Force teams to Egypt so that if there is a possibility for our nationals to cross the Rafah crossing we’re ready to get them and bring them back’.

He added: ‘And I’ve had that reassurance as well from the Egyptian president that they will work with us on that, and so we stand ready to do that.

‘But there’s a lot of complexity on the ground and around the security situation there, so it’s not something we can do immediately. But when the moment arises we’ll be ready to take it quickly. We will do everything we can to get our nationals out.’

Thousands of Palestinians have died in strikes by Israel and an even greater loss of life could come if a full invasion aimed at crushing Hamas is launched.

More than 80 MPs have urged the Government to call for a cessation of violence. But the Prime Minister’s spokesman said a ceasefire would ‘only benefit Hamas’.

Deputy PM Oliver Dowden, who hosted an emergency Cobra meeting with ministers and officials yesterday, refused to be drawn on how long a humanitarian ‘pause’ should last.

He said it would ‘depend on the circumstances on the ground’ for delivering aid into Gaza.

He told Times Radio: ‘For example, if you think about the Rafah crossing taking aid from Egypt into Gaza, to enable that aid to be transferred safely into Gaza, it would depend on the circumstances on the ground. But that is certainly something that has been urged by our Prime Minister, and indeed the Defence Secretary discussed it with his Israeli opposite number just yesterday.’

People search for survivors and the bodies of victims through the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 26

People search for survivors and the bodies of victims through the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 26

The Border Force mission comes after the Government announced that British citizens fleeing Gaza, Israel, Lebanon or the Palestinian territories will be exempt from residency tests and able to access benefits more quickly.

The changes will mean Britons fleeing the conflict can access social housing and homelessness assistance without delay.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: ‘We’ve been working quickly to ensure British nationals arriving from Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Lebanon can receive the support and security they need during a time of unspeakable turmoil.

‘As the UK continues to step up its response to the fast-moving circumstances in the region, the regulations which come into force today will speed up access to benefits, ensuring those eligible can access the help they need.’ Usually, a person must be resident in the UK for around three months before being eligible for a number of benefits – whether they are a British citizen or not.



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