Senior members of government and in opposition have warned Israel against a ground invasion of the Gazan city of Rafah, as Egypt threatens to suspend its peace deal with the country.

More than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have fled to Rafah to escape fighting in other areas, and are packed into sprawling tent camps and UN-run shelters near the border.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that a full-scale invasion will be necessary to win the war against militant group Hamas, but with the humanitarian situation in Gaza already dire human rights organisations have warned the civilians in the city have nowhere to evacuate to.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the expected Israeli invasion of the southern Gaza city would be “catastrophic”.

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He said on social media: “There are over 1.4 million displaced Palestinians in Rafah and it is the gateway to aid for Gaza – an Israeli offensive there would be catastrophic.

“The fighting must stop now. We need a sustainable ceasefire.”

Foreign secretary David Cameron said on social media: "Deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah – over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in the area.

“The priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”

Earlier on Sunday cabinet minister Michael Gove told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg: "We need to make sure that the people who were taken hostage by Hamas are returned to their families.

“The events on October 7 were the worst loss of innocent Jewish life since the Holocaust. It was an horrific pogrom and my heart grieves for Israel and what it’s had to endure.

“At the same time, while it is absolutely right to deal with that terrorist threat, we know – and again, it’s very difficult – we know that the Gazan Palestinian population has been suffering.

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“What we want to see, as the Foreign Secretary the Prime Minister have made clear, is a sustainable ceasefire and that means an opportunity both to ensure that there’s an end to Hamas terrorism, but also that the aid and support that the Palestinian people need and deserve can be delivered.”

Meanwhile Egypt has threatened to abandon its peace deal with Israel if, as expected, a ground invasion begins, two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat told the PA news agency on Sunday.

All three officials confirmed Egypt’s threats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief reporters.