LONDON — U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron admitted he is “worried” Israel has “taken action that might be in breach of international law” as the conflict in Gaza continues.
But, under intense questioning from British MPs Tuesday, Cameron refused to say if he had received any official advice from government lawyers along those lines. “I can’t recall every single piece of paper put in front of me,” he said.
Israel is facing mounting scrutiny as it attempts to wipe out Hamas in response to a massacre in early October that killed over 1,200 people and led to the hostage-taking of nearly 250 others.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health estimates that more than 22,000 Palestinians have been killed in the retaliation so far.
During tense exchanges Tuesday, including with Conservative chair of the foreign affairs committee Alicia Kearns, Cameron was pressed on whether Israel should return water to Gaza. He said it should — but would not be drawn on whether withholding it might constitute a war crime.
“I’m not a lawyer,” Cameron said. “But my view is they ought to switch it on because [in] the north of Gaza, the conflict is effectively over there — and so getting more water and power into northern Gaza would be a very good thing to do.” Sitting beside Cameron, top Foreign Office official Philip Barton accepted in principle that withholding water is against international law.
“Am I worried that Israel has taken action that might be in breach of international law, because this particular premises has been bombed or whatever? Yes, of course I’m worried about that,” Cameron later said on the wider point of whether international law is being upheld.
The foreign secretary and former U.K. prime minister — who was brought back into frontline politics by Rishi Sunak last year — has previously called for a “sustainable cease-fire” to the conflict in Gaza.