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Lord Cameron visits Israel as truce with Hamas delayed

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron is visiting Israel, despite a delay in an agreed four-day pause in Israel’s war with Hamas.

The former prime minister arrived amid uncertainty about when the pause in the fighting in Gaza would begin.

A senior Israeli official said it would not take effect before Friday, a day later than expected.

Lord Cameron is expected to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders during his visit.

Visiting Kibbutz Be’eri, the scene of one of the worst Hamas attacks on Israel which began the conflict on 7 October, he said: “I wanted to come here to see it for myself; I have heard and seen things I will never forget.”

Accompanied by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, he walked through the farming community where around 100 people were killed, just a few miles from Gaza.

“Today is also a day where we hope to see progress on the humanitarian pause,” the foreign secretary said.

“This is a crucial opportunity to get hostages out and aid in to Gaza, to help Palestinian civilians who are facing a growing humanitarian crisis.”

On Wednesday, Lord Cameron met foreign ministers from Arab and Islamic countries – including the Palestinian Authority – at Lancaster House in London to discuss the crisis.

Counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and Nigeria were there, as well as the secretary general of the League of Arab States and the ambassador of Qatar.

The foreign secretary said the group discussed how to use the planned pause in the fighting to consider “how we can build a peaceful future which provides security for Israel but also peace and stability for the Palestinian people”.

But until the pause comes into force, Israel has said it will continue to target Hamas. Mr Cohen said its aim remained “the destruction of Hamas rule in Gaza”.

Qatari mediators insist the delay has been caused by paperwork, rather than disagreements.

Under the deal agreed, 50 hostages seized by Hamas last month would be released, along with more than a hundred Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails.

Amnesty International UK’s chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said “short pauses” were “not enough”, and Lord Cameron should back a full ceasefire “in the interests of averting further civilian suffering for Palestinians and Israelis”.

“With the horrifying civilian death toll from Israeli attacks in Gaza still rising and no permanent ceasefire in sight, it’s vital that David Cameron uses this trip to signal an urgently needed change of direction from the UK Government in support of humanity and international law,” he added.