Israel-Gaza latest: UK voters support ban on arms sales to Israel, poll finds; bodies of aid workers driven out of Gaza in … – Sky News

The US has expressed “outrage” at the killing of seven humanitarian aid workers in an Israeli airstrike. The organisation the volunteers were working for, World Central Kitchen, has demanded an independent investigation and rejected the idea that Israel should be allowed to carry it out.
Thursday 4 April 2024 09:15, UK
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Israel’s military has halted leave for all combat units amid concerns of possible escalation after the killing of Iranian generals in Damascus. 
An airstrike hit Tehran’s consulate building in the Syrian capital earlier this week.
Iran has blamed Israel, with Israel declining to comment.
This morning, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said in a statement: “In accordance with the situational assessment, it has been decided that leave will be temporarily paused for all IDF combat units. 
“The IDF is at war and the deployment of forces is under continuous assessment according to requirements.”

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds told Sky News that the government should publish its legal advice as to whether or not Britain should stop arms sales to Israel.
“There is a very clear legal precedent in the UK regarding arms sales saying that if there is any danger of arms from the UK being involved in a serious breach of humanitarian law then it cannot be exported,” he said.
“If that threshold has been met, then there should be no arms sales to Israel of anything that could be involved in that.”
“The government will have had information on that and taking the exceptional step of publishing that is the right response to the concerns we have seen and if that threshold has been met then things should not be exported,” he added.
To the families of the British aid workers who were killed in the IDF strike, he said that his “thoughts and prayers” were with the families and that the tragedy required international investigation, describing the situation as “horrendous”.
“We should be very angry, there can be nothing but unequivocal condemnation of what has happened to these heroes,” he added.
“Nothing can justify what has happened to these three people. For this to happen to them is unconscionable.”
Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the former permanent representative of the UK to the United Nations, has said there have been a “number of developments” since government lawyers analysed the legality of Israel’s military actions in Gaza last year.

He was reacting to warnings by 600 lawyers and academics that the UK is breaching international law by continuing to arm Israel.
Sir Mark, who is also the former UK national security adviser, told Kay Burley on Sky News this morning: “When they last did so, this was in December. They decided that there wasn’t a serious risk of a violation of international humanitarian law by Israel and therefore it was legitimate for the British government to continue to sell weapons to Israel. 
“I think since December there have been a number of developments that are highlighted in this letter from judges and lawyers.
“Firstly, you’ve got the ICJ judgement which said that there was a plausible risk of genocide in the conflict in Gaza.
“You’ve got the fact that there was a Security Council Resolution 27/28 calling for an immediate ceasefire which Israel hasn’t abided by. 
“And you’ve got the continuing humanitarian crisis, a siege prevention of aid going into Gaza and the risk of famine of the population. 
“So I think those developments since then means that if the government lawyers were to look again at this issue, they may come to a different judgement.”
Sir Mark added that the UK pausing weapon sales to Israel would be a “significant step”.
“Other European countries like Spain, like Belgium, have suspended weapons sales,” he said.
“We shouldn’t exaggerate the significance of the step because actually Britain sells very few weapons to Israel, particularly compared to the United States. 
“So it wouldn’t make any difference to Israel’s military capacity, but nonetheless would be quite a significant political and symbolic step.”
Read more on the legal warning given to the UK government…
The collapse of healthcare infrastructure in Gaza has left thousands of dead unidentified – with authorities relying on first responders, journalists and bereaved families for information.

Sky News Data and Forensics correspondent Tom Cheshire explains why Gaza’s health officials are unable to formally identify thousands of Palestinians killed in the conflict with Israel.
Israel’s explanation for killing seven aid workers in Gaza was “not good enough”, said Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese.
Israel said it mistakenly killed workers of charity World Central Kitchen, including Australian woman Zomi Frankcom, drawing widespread condemnation from its allies.
“We need to have accountability for how it has occurred, and what is not good enough is the statements that have been made, including that this is just a product of war,” Mr Albanese said.
On Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu said “Israel deeply rejects the tragic incident” and that “this happens in war”.
World Central Kitchen has demanded an independent investigation into the IDF strikes that killed seven of its employees.
CEO Erin Gore and board co-chair Javier Garcia called on the governments of the UK, US, Australia, Canada and Poland to join its call for third party scrutiny of the attack.
They said an independent investigation was the only way to determine if Israel had violated international law, ensure transparency and accountability and prevent future attacks on humanitarian aid workers.
“This was a military attack that involved multiple strikes and targeted three WCK vehicles,” said Ms Gore and Mr Garcia in a joint statement.
“All three vehicles were carrying civilians; they were marked as WCK vehicles and their movements were in full compliance with Israeli authorities, who were aware of their itinerary, route, and humanitarian mission.”
The organisation said it had asked the Israeli government to immediately preserve all documents, communications, video or audio recordings, relevant to the strikes.
The US has expressed further “outrage” at the Israeli strike on a humanitarian aid convoy that killed seven aid workers, including three Britons.
Lloyd Austin, the country’s defence secretary, urged Israel to take concrete steps to protect aid workers and Palestinian civilians “after repeated coordination failures”, the Pentagon said.
In a conversation with Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant, he “expressed his outrage at the Israeli strike on a World Central Kitchen humanitarian aid convoy that killed seven aid workers, including an American citizen”.
He also urged Mr Gallant to conduct “a swift and transparent” investigation, to share the conclusions publicly, and to hold those responsible to account.
Here’s what we know about the aid workers killed in the airstrike…
Welcome back to our coverage of the Israel-Hamas war and the wider conflict in the Middle East.
The fallout from Monday night’s deadly Israeli airstrike on an aid convoy in Gaza continued yesterday, as more of Israel’s allies came out to condemn the killings.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was “outraged” by the attack, while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called Benjamin Netanyahu’s response “unacceptable and insufficient”.
Tributes poured in for the seven workers killed, including the three British victims John Chapman, 57, James “Jim” Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47.
Mr Netanyahu and Joe Biden are due to speak today in what will be their first discussion since the tragedy.
Also in the past day:
That’s all for today, but we’ll be back soon with regular updates and analysis.

Scroll down to read what happened during the day.
A close friend of Damien Sobol says he immediately picked up his phone to text him when he heard about the Israeli strike on an aid convoy on Monday.
Mr Sobol, a Polish citizen, was one of seven World Central Kitchen workers killed.
Mikolaj Rykowski told Sky News that when he first heard of the attack, he prayed that his friend was not involved.
“I take my phone and write to Damien ‘how are you, bro? Where are you? Everything is okay?’… but of course he did not answer,” he said.
Mr Rykowski said Mr Sobol was “the best of all of us” and was “forever smiling”.
He said he was not angry at Israel, but angry for everyone caught up in war zones across the world.
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