UK’s David Cameron slaps sanctions on ‘extremist’ Israeli settlers

LONDON — The U.K. government imposed fresh sanctions on “extremist” Israeli settlers who have attacked Palestinian civilians, Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced.

The crackdown, unveiled on Monday afternoon, will see the U.K. impose asset freezes as well as travel and visa bans on those “who have committed human rights abuses against Palestinian communities in the West Bank.”

Announcing the move, Cameron said the 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,” he said. “Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs. This behavior is illegal and unacceptable.”

In unusually strong language for the U.K. government, the release announcing the move said: “Israel’s failure to act has led to an environment of near total impunity for settler extremists in the West Bank.”

The move comes amid mounting U.K. government concern about Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which followed the deadly October 7 attack by Hamas.

Cameron, on a trip to Scotland, told broadcasters Monday that he is is “deeply concerned” about the prospect of a ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, saying Israel should “stop and think seriously before it takes any further action.”

Highlighting the plight of civilians in Rafah, a densely populated city which is now the home for people who have followed previous Israeli evacuation orders, Cameron said: “It’s impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people … there’s nowhere for them to go.”

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson echoed those comments Monday, warning: “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.”