The UK Government is “worried” that Israel may have broken international law in its war with Hamas in Gaza, the foreign secretary has suggested.

Lord David Cameron told MPs he had seen things which were “deeply concerning” in the conflict and he was consulting his department’s lawyers about arms exports to the region.

However, in evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, he said it was not his job to make a “legal adjudication” about international law.

The former prime minister said: “If you’re asking me am I worried that Israel has taken action that might be in breach of international law because this particular premise has been bombed or whatever? Yes, of course I’m worried about that, and that’s why I consult the Foreign Office lawyers when giving this advice on arms exports.”

He called on Israel to restore water supply in Gaza but declined to be drawn on whether depriving the civilian population of it amounted to breaking laws on armed conflict.

The UK Government has supported Israel’s right to defend itself following the October 7 attacks by Hamas while urging restraint and acting in accordance with international rules.

During a tense exchange with the SNP MP Brendan O’Hara, Lord Cameron said he had seen things regarding the crisis which were “deeply concerning” but refused to say whether he had received legal advice suggesting laws had been breached.

Tory MP Bob Seeley also asked Lord Cameron if Foreign Office lawyers had advised that Israel was vulnerable to challenge at the International Court of Justice in the Hague over whether its response to the attacks was proportionate.

“It’s close to that,” Lord Cameron replied.

Around 1,200 Israelis were killed by Hamas on October 7, while more than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza, according to Hamas allies.

Lord Cameron also told the committee two British nationals are still being held hostage by Hamas among an estimated 130 remaining hostages.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns, the Committee’s chairwoman, said she didn’t think Lord Cameron had provided clear answers to MPs on the issue of Israel and international law.

She told BBC Radio 4 that she believed Israel, as an occupying power in Gaza, had breached international humanitarian law.

“The reality is that it is not always for courts to make determinations,” she said.

“On issues such as international humanitarian law, and whether or not it has been broken or not, I made the point to him that he has previously made those determinations from the dispatch box as Prime Minister.”

Downing Street later said Israel needed to “act carefully” and avoid escalating the conflict.

Asked if Rishi Sunak shared Lord Cameron’s concerns about whether Israel has been acting within international law, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It’s an issue we continue to keep under review and obviously we have made our views clear to the Israeli government at a number of levels on this.”

He added: “We continue to want Israel to act carefully and avoid doing anything that could endanger civilians or risk potential further escalation. Fundamentally, though, we recognise that it is Israel that is responding to a terror attack, first and foremost.”




US secretary of state Antony Blinken held talks in Israel earlier on Tuesday as part of efforts to plan a future for Gaza after the Israel-Hamas war.

US officials have called for the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to take over in Gaza and for negotiations to resume on the creation of a Palestinian state Israeli leaders have staunchly refused both.

“There is lots to talk about, in particular about the way forward,” Mr Blinken said after meeting Israeli President Isaac Herzog.