NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
Contenders all – Rachel Reeve, Dame Jackie Baillie, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Sir Keith Starmer. Top of the page – Anas Sarwar, a future Prime Minister?
Why are we so interested in what’s going on in Gaza? Because the UK is sending navy ships and spy planes to ‘support Israel’ and prevent ‘further escalation’
And West Dunbartonshire has has long and close ties with the Royal Navy through the Service personnel serving here for more than half a century, and the hundreds of Navy families who live and raise their families, mainly in Helensburgh, Garelochside and northwards into South Argyll.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is currently on a Royal Navy warship in the Mediterranean showing support to Israel and was seen on TV this morning serving breakfast to the officers and crew.
Vane frigate Rishi Sunak also asked for all military teams in Israel, Cyprus and those across the region to be bolstered to help deal with the impact of instability in Israel following the attack by Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas.
The UK will send RAF aircraft and Royal Navy ships to carry out surveillance over Israel in a show of support following the Hamas massacre there last Saturday.
RAF aircraft will begin patrols in the next 24 hours while two ships will be sent to the eastern Mediterranean.
A Royal Navy task group will be moved to the eastern Mediterranean next week and will include two ships – RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Argus.
The military package will also see P8 aircraft, surveillance assets, three Merlin helicopters and a company of Royal Marines, who also have Faslane connections, put on standby “to deliver practical support to Israel and partners in the region, and offer deterrence and assurance”.
The prime minister has also asked for all military teams in Israel, Cyprus and those across the region to be bolstered to support contingency planning and the efforts of neighbouring countries to deal with the impact of instability in Israel.
According to Sky News, Rishi Sunak said the “deployment of our world-class military will support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation”.
“We must be unequivocal in making sure the types of horrific scenes we have seen this week will not be repeated,” he added.
“Our military and diplomatic teams across the region will also support international partners to re-establish security and ensure humanitarian aid reaches the thousands of innocent victims of this barbaric attack from Hamas terrorists.”
The military support is just the latest provided by the UK in the wake of the surprise attack by Hamas on Saturday.
To date,1,300 Israelis have died while 1,417 Palestinians, including 447 children, have been killed in retaliatory strikes in Gaza – where electricity, water and fuel has been cut off.
Israel has said it will keep blocking supplies until Hamas releases nearly 100 hostages.
The Foreign Office said flights have been organised to get British nationals out of Israel, with the first plane for “vulnerable” people expected to depart today.
Friday 13 October 2023 11:29, UK
What The Democrat does not support is Israel’s order for more than one million Palestinians to move to the south of Gaza as it continues to move its defence forces to the border ahead of what could be a ground offensive, which would almost certain lead to a pogrom in Gaza.
The order came as the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency warned Gaza was becoming a “hell hole” and was on the “brink of collapse”.
The evacuation order is the strongest hint yet from Israel that it is preparing to launch a ground offensive on Gaza almost a week after Hamas’s terrifying assault.
It also began dropping leaflets written in Arabic into the Gaza Strip urging people in the north of the area to move south across the Wadi Gaza – a piece of coastal wetland with a river running through the middle.
UN officials in Gaza “were informed by their liaison officers in the Israeli military that the entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza should relocate to southern Gaza within the next 24 hours,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement in New York.
“This amounts to approximately 1.1 million people,” he added, or nearly half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population.
Mr Dujarric said the UN “considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences”.
It came after the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said “this evacuation is for your own safety”, but in response, Hamas has called the warning “fake propaganda” and urged Palestinians “not to fall for it”.
The UN has appealed for the order to be rescinded to avoid turning “what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation”.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) called for an “immediate intervention” from the international community to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe”.
“We don’t have the means to evacuate the sick and the wounded people in our hospitals or the elderly and the disabled,” a spokesperson for the humanitarian group said.
“Humanity is on the line – the world must intervene to stop this catastrophe unfolding in the next few hours,” it added.