'We Have Our Own Voice': BBC Presenter Skewers Minister Over UK's Lack Of Action In Gaza

"What are we doing to bring the war to an end?"
Grant Shapps struggled to field questions from Mishal Husain over the Israel-Gaza war
Grant Shapps struggled to field questions from Mishal Husain over the Israel-Gaza war

BBC presenter Mishal Husain repeatedly probed defence secretary Grant Shapps this morning, by asking what the UK is actually doing to help end the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

It has been 101 days since Israel declared war on the Palestinian militants, in the wake of the October 7 Hamas massacre which saw 1,200 Israelis killed and 240 others taken captive.

Since then, almost 24,000 people in Gaza have been killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, amid Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground offensive.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Monday, Shapps said it is “really, really important” that the war is brought to a conclusion.

He added: “The UK is trying to do everything we can to make sure we get a lot more aid into Gaza.

“And this is something that even in the last few hours I’ve been working with our foreign secretary to see what else we can be doing.”

Husain then cut in: “Like what? I don’t mean aid, what are we doing to bring the war to an end?”

Shapps replied: “Well, we speak to all the partners all the time, those who have influence over Hamas, those who have influence over the Palestinian authorities, and the regional partners as well.”

But Husain noted: “We have our own voice.”

Like many Israeli allies, the UK government has called on Israel to respect international humanitarian law but it has not joined in with the countries calling for a general and immediate ceasefire.

The Radio 4 presenter then quoted from an Israeli army spokesperson talking about Gaza who said in October: “Our focus is on creating damage, not on precision.”

This kind of rhetoric was used in South Africa’s argument in the International Court of Justice last week that Israel was breaching international law by committing genocide in Gaza. Israel has denied any such allegation.

Back on Radio 4, Shapps replied: “There’s a difference between supporting a country’s right to self-defence and supporting each action or even the government of a particular country.

“What we’re saying, is that Israel, like every other country, must act within international law.”

Husain pointed out language like “creating damage not precision” does not suggest there’s a focus on international law.

She also pointed to other quotes from other ministers, where Palestinians have been called “Nazis”.

Shapps said that the population in Gaza has been held to ransom by the militants Hamas, with its underground tunnels and diverted aid.

When pushed by Husain, Shapps admitted that he did not think those Israeli comments were acceptable.

But he also said he has spoken to the Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant recently, and he now talks about “being precise and proportionate”.

Husain replied: “Did you tell him it was wrong to talk about trying to eliminate everything? Because that would be against international humanitarian law.”

Shapps said many quotes were made immediately after the attacks when “emotions may have led to things being said”.

He added that Hamas were “buried” away in tunnel networks under the Palestinian territory, making it “very difficult” to target them.

Husain said that the comments seem as though it is an attack on civilians too, quoting the Israeli minister Amichai Eliyahu who said in November: “There are no non-combatants in Gaza.”

To that, Shapps said: “The official position of the Israeli government is, and must be, one of self-defence and to go after Hamas, a terrorist organisation.”


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