Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has insisted the UK will maintain support for Britons trapped in Gaza, as he said it was proving “incredibly difficult” to open the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
Speaking to Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday Morning programme, the cabinet minister also said that 10 was “not an unreasonable estimate” for the number of British hostages held by Hamas.
And Mr Cleverly warned that protesters who displayed support for the militant group did not help the Palestinian people.
He made his comments against the backdrop of the current Israel-Hamas war.
The conflict, which was sparked by the militant group launching a deadly assault from Gaza on Israel, has claimed thousands of lives on both sides.
Israeli forces are retaliating with airstrikes and have positioned themselves along Gaza’s border ahead of what Israel says will be a broad campaign to dismantle the militant group.
On establishing a safe route out of Gaza for British citizens stuck in the besieged territory, Mr Cleverly said: “I’ve spoken on a number of occasions with my Egyptian counterpart.
“We stay in very close coordination with the United States of America, with other friends in the region and of course with the Israeli government trying to coordinate a time window when the Rafah crossing can be opened so that people can leave.
“That is proving incredibly difficult. So I’m not able to say with any certainty when that crossing may be open.”
He added: “This is very important for the British nationals in Gaza.
“We continue to support them, we continue to update them as much as we can through, text messaging and whatever other means is available.
“So we will keep supporting the British nationals in Gaza and we will keep working with the US, with the Israelis and others to try and bring this crossing into use.”
When pressed over whether the number of UK nationals being held captive by Hamas was 10, Mr Cleverly was reluctant to be drawn, but said: “That is not an unreasonable estimate of the kind of number of people that we’re talking about.”