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Middle East: Armed Conflict

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department, (c) officials in his Department, (d) the British Ambassador to Egypt and (e) officials in the British Embassy in Egypt have had with the government of Egypt since December 2008 on the smuggling of (i) weapons and (ii) people into Gaza from Egypt via under-border tunnels; what reports he has received on the number of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt that have been (A) discovered and (B) closed; and if he will make a statement. (252969)

We are extremely concerned with the smuggling of arms and people into Gaza. With the number of tunnels discovered changing on a regular basis we are unable to provide a definitive figure.

We have been in close touch with the Egyptian authorities including my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister meeting President Mubarak at the Sharm summit and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary speaking to his Egyptian counterpart. We will continue to work with the government of Egypt and our international partners on ways to help prevent smuggling.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the use of tunnels under the border of Egypt and Gaza by Bedouin smugglers to transfer arms to Hamas; what recent representations he has made to the government of Egypt about this issue; and if he will make a statement. (252970)

We are extremely concerned with the smuggling of arms and people into Gaza including through tunnels under the border. We are currently working with the Government of Egypt and our international partners on ways to help prevent smuggling.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government has evidence that the government of Israel has used white phosphorus weapons in a way inconsistent with international law; and if he will make a statement. (253010)

We are gravely concerned at the allegations into the misuse of white phosphorous. We expect, and urge, Israel, to investigate allegations of abuses by their forces. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in his statement to Parliament on 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 501,

“allegations must be closely and speedily investigated”.