There are no reliable estimates of Hezbollah weaponry and the precise number of rockets with what potential ranges.
The latest report from the UN Secretary General on UN Security Council Resolution 1701 however, highlighted that Hezbollah continues to maintain a substantial military capacity distinct from that of the Lebanese state. This is available on the UN website at
We closely monitor Israeli detention operations and the situation of Palestinian prisoners. We will continue to emphasise to the Israeli authorities the importance of ensuring their legal processes are in accordance with international law and democratic norms.
We have stated the Government position on the Goldstone report on a number of occasions. Some aspects of the report were flawed—particularly its failure to acknowledge fully Israel's right to defend herself, and the inadequate attention paid to Hamas' actions. However, the issues raised by the report were very serious, and they should be credibly and independently investigated.
We have also been clear on our position on Israeli restrictions on access through the Gaza crossings. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised this with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on 14 October 2009. EU Foreign Ministers called for an “immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings” in conclusions on 8 December 2009, which are available at:
We receive regular reports about the current situation in Gaza from both our ambassador to Israel and our consul-general in Jerusalem.
Our consul-general in Jerusalem regularly visits Gaza for meetings at the British Information and Services Office. His most recent visit was on 1 December 2009.
UN Security Council resolution 1860 is clear in its call for a durable ceasefire; the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance; and the prevention of illicit arms trafficking throughout Gaza.
Despite this, Hamas rocket attacks continue—they must stop immediately.
Our position on Israeli restrictions on access through the Gaza crossings is well known. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised this with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on 14 October 2009. EU Foreign Ministers called for an “immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings” in conclusions on 8 December 2009, which are available at:
We have made clear our support for Egyptian-sponsored efforts to build a non-partisan, technocratic Palestinian Government, which would be capable of working productively with the international community. These Egyptian efforts continue.
We regularly press Israel to ease restrictions at the Gaza crossings and permit the legitimate flow of humanitarian and reconstruction materials, trade goods and people into Gaza. We urge Israel to do so immediately, regardless of broader peace negotiations.
The UK continues to vigorously pursue a comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution involving a viable Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security.
We will continue to press the Israeli authorities, both at an official and ministerial level, to ease border restrictions into Gaza and allow the passage of essential humanitarian aid and reconstruction material. These concerns were recently highlighted at the EU Foreign Ministers Meeting on 8 December 2009. The EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions are available at:
We have consistently pressed Israel to ease restrictions and allow the flow of essential humanitarian aid and reconstruction material into Gaza. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this issue during his conversation with the Israeli Foreign Minister on 25 November 2009.
According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry there were 762 rocket and mortar attacks during Operation Cast Lead, and 193 attacks between the ceasefire on 18 January and 8 December 2009.
There have been no Israeli fatalities since the ceasefire. We do not have figures concerning causalities.
We are unable to establish the total number of incidents in Gaza involving the Israeli Defence Forces in 2009.
However, according to the UN, since the end of Operation Cast Lead, a total of 85 Palestinians have been killed and 134 others injured in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
There have been two incidents which have involved Israeli Defence Forces firing warning shots at diplomatic officials. One incident involved an official from the British consulate-general in Jerusalem and the second an official from an EU consulate-general in Jerusalem. We have discussed our concerns with the Israeli authorities.
Our ambassador to Israel has no plans to attend the Gaza freedom march on 31 December 2009. We advise against all travel to Gaza. Despite the ceasefires continuing to hold, they are fragile and tensions remain extremely high.
We remain gravely concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and continue to urge the Israeli authorities to ease restrictions at the crossings and implement UN Security Council Resolution 1860 fully.
The Government were deeply concerned by reports of incidents involving UN property/personnel during the Gaza conflict. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set up the UN Board of Inquiry to investigate certain incidents involving UN property/personnel during the Gaza conflict. The board reported back on 5 May 2009. The UN Secretariat are taking this forward directly with the Israeli Government.
It is for the UN Secretary-General to decide whether or not to make public anything further on this matter.
The UK regularly urges Israel to reduce restrictions at the Gaza crossings and to allow the legitimate flow of humanitarian and reconstruction materials, trade goods, and people.
My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary last raised Gaza access issues with their Israeli counterparts on 14 October 2009 and 25 November 2009 respectively.
Middle East issues, including Gaza, were discussed in depth at the EU Foreign Ministers meeting on 8 December 2009. The relevant section of their conclusions reads:
“Gravely concerned about the situation in Gaza, the Council urges the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860 and the full respect of international humanitarian law. In this context, the continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive. It has devastated the private sector economy and damaged the natural environment, notably water and other natural resources. The EU again reiterates its calls for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. In this context, the Council calls for the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access. While extremists stand to gain from the current situation, the civilian population, half of which are under the age of 18, suffers. Fully recognising Israel's legitimate security needs, the Council continues to call for a complete stop to all violence and arms smuggling into Gaza. The Council calls on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay.”