More than 150 British nationals have left Gaza via a key border crossing, according to the UK Government.
Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said the UK has been “engaging intensively” with Israel and Egypt to allow foreign nationals to leave Gaza via the Rafah crossing, adding this has proved possible on five of the last seven days.
Mr Mitchell also stressed the need for “effective humanitarian pauses” in the Israel-Hamas conflict to increase the flow of humanitarian support, although he said it is clear Hamas has “no intention” of engaging in a ceasefire.
Labour pressed for fuel supplies to enter Gaza for humanitarian purposes and warned the conflict was a “children’s war”, with an emergency plan for youngsters in Gaza required.
Mr Mitchell, making a statement in the Commons on the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said: “Immediately after Hamas’ brutal assault, the Government brought home almost 1,000 British nationals safely on charter and military flights, but the safety of all British nationals is our utmost priority and so we are in regular contact with those in Gaza registered with us since the conflict began.
“Working with partners, we have been engaging intensively with Israel and Egypt to allow foreign nationals to leave Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.
“This has proved possible on five of the last seven days and I can confirm to the House that as of late last night, over 150 British nationals have made it through to Egypt.
“A forward deployed team of consular officials is … close to Rafah to meet them and provide the medical consular and administrative support they need.
“We have also set up a reception centre for British nationals in Cairo and have arranged accommodation. We will do everything we can to ensure all remaining British nationals in Gaza can leave safely.”
Mr Mitchell said a “limited number” of aid trucks have crossed into Gaza since October 21, adding: “The volume going through the Rafah checkpoint is nowhere near enough to meet civilian needs, and cannot be even were it operating at full capacity.
“We are therefore urgently exploring with partners measures which can help increase the flow of humanitarian support.
“These measures must include effective humanitarian pauses, as agreed by all the G7 countries in Tokyo this morning, and we are urging Israel to consider utilising the facilities at other land border crossings into Gaza such as Kerem Shalom.
“This reflects our current assessment that delivery by land remains the only safe option to deliver aid and the quantity needed in Gaza, whilst ensuring the necessary control and oversight.”
Mr Mitchell also said the Government continues to press Israel to ensure its campaign is targeted against Hamas “leaders, militants and military infrastructure”, before adding: “We condemned settler violence.
“Israel needs to take concrete measures to address it and hold the perpetrators to account.”
For Labour, shadow Foreign Office minister Lisa Nandy said fuel should be the Government’s “urgent priority”.
She added: “Without it, the water cannot flow, the hospitals can’t power their incubators and the food cannot be cooked. The sewage system breakdown is now threatening a major public health crisis.
“For weeks the international community has demanded the siege conditions on Gaza be lifted, but it still has not happened – this is totally unacceptable and it cannot continue.”
Ms Nandy also said humanitarian pauses were the “only viable prospect” and relayed calls for the Government to appoint a humanitarian co-ordinator to “scale-up the passage of aid”.
On children, Ms Nandy said: “The average age in Gaza is just 18, make no mistake this is a children’s war. More children have died in Gaza in four weeks than in all of the world’s conflicts in each of the last three years.
“There are a million children caught up in the devastation who are orphaned and displaced, sleeping outside as the weather grows colder – short of food and forced to drink dirty water.
“In most conflicts we would expect children to be evacuated to a safer place, to receive care and shelter. What makes this so devastating is that almost uniquely in this conflict that is not going to happen.
“In the face of such an extraordinary threat to children, the international community is obligated to do more. With the Foreign Secretary at the G7 committee this week, will the Government join us in calling for an emergency plan to support the children of Gaza?”
Mr Mitchell replied: “We will do everything we can to ensure that the priority of children is recognised in all the humanitarian work that we do.”