APPENDIX 2: LETTER FROM THE MINISTER
FOR EUROPE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE, DATED 25 JULY 2006|
During my appearance before your committee on 13
July I promised to write with information on known casualties
in the current military conflict between Israel and militants
in the Gaza Strip.
We estimate that since 4 May (when the Israeli government
came into office) 221 Palestinians and 5 Israelis were killed
in the conflict in Gaza. These figures include civilians, militants
and soldiers. It is extremely difficult to assess with any accuracy
how many on the Palestinian side were civilians. They are also
higher than indicated in the recent evidence session. This is
due to the figure including militants and soldiers. We regret
all civilian deaths and hope that both sides can move forward
from the recent violence.
I am deeply concerned at recent events. The escalation
of this crisis poses a serious threat for Israel, the Occupied
Territories and now Lebanon and the wider security of the region.
We continue to raise our concerns on a regular basis with both
the Israelis and the Palestinians and call upon all parties in
the region to make every effort possible to resolve the current
situation by peaceful means.
We strongly support the EU's and UN's efforts to
arrange, as quickly as possible, a ceasefire and the release of
the abducted soldiers. We call have continued to call for the
release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, and end to attacks
on Israeli towns and cities. We urge all those countries with
influence over Hizbollah and Hamas to play their part.
Israel has every right to act in self- defence. But
we have urged the Israeli military to do everything in its power
to avoid civilian casualties and conform by international law.
All military action should abide by the principle of proportionality.
As my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on 18 July "It
is important that Israel's response is proportionate and does
its best to minimise civilian casualties, but it would stop now
if the soldiers who were kidnapped-wrongly, when Hizbollah crossed
the United Nations blue line-were released. It would stop if the
rockets stopped coming into Haifa, deliberately to kill innocent
I am writing in similar terms to the Chairman of
the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, copying to the Clerks
of both Committees and to Les Saunders at the Cabinet Office,
Chris Banahan, Departmental Scrutiny Co-ordinator, and Tammy Sandhu,
Select Committee Liaison Officer.