Britain has imposed sanctions on four Israeli individuals, saying they “threatened and perpetrated acts of aggression and violence” against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
It follows a similar move by the US, which recently imposed sanctions on several Israeli settlers accused of violence against Palestinians.
The news comes as the foreign secretary and prime minister called on Israel to “stop and think seriously” before taking further action in Rafah in the south of Gaza.
Speaking to reporters in East Kilbride, Scotland, David Cameron said that the government is “very concerned” about the situation in Rafah and wants “Israel to stop and think seriously before it takes any further action”.
The government notice said that the most recent sanctions will target extremist Israeli settlers who have “violently attacked Palestinians” in the occupied West Bank.
The sanctions will impose financial and travel restrictions in a bid to tackle continued settler violence which threatens West Bank stability. The government notice said those sanctioned have used “physical aggression, threatened families at gunpoint, and destroyed property as part of a targeted and calculated effort to displace Palestinian communities”.
Foreign secretary Lord Cameron said: “Today’s sanctions place restrictions on those involved in some of the most egregious abuses of human rights. We should be clear about what is happening here. Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs.
“This behaviour is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must also take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence. Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given but not followed through.
He added: “Extremist settlers, by targeting and attacking Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Downing Street has echoed the foreign secretary’s calls for Israel to “stop and think seriously” before carrying out military action against Hamas in Rafah.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are obviously deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah.
“Over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering there and that crossing is vital to ensuring aid can reach the people who desperately need it
“The priority in Gaza must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, such that we can then make progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”
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