Rishi Sunak promised to “always” stand with Israel in a message to the British Jewish community a week after the Hamas attack which left hundreds dead among Israeli civilians and soldiers.
The prime minister condemned the “evil” attack by the Palestinian militant group, in a message broadcast as Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, drew to a close.
A week after this unprecedented incursion, Mr Sunak promised that the government would protect the Jewish community from “shameful anti-Semitism”.
The Metropolitan Police said on Friday that London had seen a “massive increase” in anti-Semitic incidents since the start of the conflict.
The Hamas assault provoked a furious reaction from Israel, which fears a further escalation of the conflict in the days to come.
“We stand with Israel, not just today, not just tomorrow, but always.
“And I stand with you, British Jewry, not just today, not just tomorrow, but always. Am Yisrael Chai,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Sunak said he knew the days and weeks ahead would be “very difficult”.
“No words can describe the horror and barbarity that was unleashed in Israel a week ago. Daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, grandparents taken from people in the most cruel and horrible way possible.
“Hundreds of people have been killed, many injured or missing, and others are experiencing the unimaginable agony of seeing a loved one kidnapped and held hostage.
“British citizens were among the victims. And as we continue to learn more, I know there are families here and in Israel who are deeply hurting and tormented.
“My thoughts and heart go out to all those suffering as a result of these attacks. »
Amnesty International UK said it was “deeply disturbing” that Mr Sunak failed to mention Palestinian civilians killed in the conflict.
Sacha Deshmukh, director general of Amnesty International UK, said: “It is true that the Prime Minister expressed his horror at the cruel and brutal crimes against Israeli civilians committed by Hamas a week ago, who testified with a frightening disregard for life and included war crimes.
“But the Prime Minister’s failure to mention the hundreds of Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli airstrikes or include any calls for all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law is deeply troubling. »
Mr Sunak also sent a message to the Israeli people.
“Britain is with you. What happened was an act of pure evil and Israel has every right to defend itself. We will do everything in our power to help Israel restore the security it deserves. »
He told the British Jewish community: “I know you are hurting and shocked by these despicable terrorist acts.
“At times like this, when Jews are attacked at home, Jews around the world may feel less safe.
“We have witnessed bullying behavior and shameful anti-Semitism online and on our streets, with attempts to inflame tensions. I say, not here.
“Not in Britain. Not in our country. Not in this century. We will do everything possible to protect the Jewish people in our country.
“And if anything stands in the way of the safety of the Jewish community, we will address it.” »
Sir Keir Starmer also marked one week since the Hamas attack, while calling for safe humanitarian corridors for Palestinians in Gaza fleeing violence.
The Labor leader said: “A week ago we woke up to the unimaginable and heartbreaking news of Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel from Gaza.
“In the days that followed, we heard horrific accounts of the killing and mutilation of men, women and children, as well as the horror of hostage-taking.
“Israel has the right, even the duty, to defend itself and save these hostages. Responsibility for what happened lies with Hamas terrorists; and we reiterate our call on Hamas to release all the hostages.
“I met with members of the British Jewish community this week and told them we stand with Israel and them at this time. I know this is a distressing and worrying time and I welcome the additional funding for the CSE (Community Security Trust). There must be zero tolerance for any rise in anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.
“Hamas has no interest in peace. No interest in protecting Palestinians.
“We call on all parties to act in accordance with international law, including by allowing humanitarian access to food, water, electricity and medicine in Gaza and ensuring safe humanitarian corridors in Gaza for those who flee violence.
“Seven days after the darkest day in recent Israeli history, our resolve in the face of terrorism will not waver. »