UK’s Prince William: ‘Too Many’ Have Been Killed in Gaza War

Kin Cheung/Pool via REUTERS
Britain’s William, Prince of Wales, listens as he visits the British Red Cross at its headquarters in London, Britain, February 20, 2024.

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince William called on Tuesday for an end to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, saying the “sheer scale of human suffering” had brought home the need for peace in an enclave “where too many have been killed.”

In an unusually direct intervention for a member of the royal family, William, the heir to the British throne, said it was critical that aid got through to those sheltering in Gaza, and that Hamas must release hostages.

“I remain deeply concerned about the terrible human cost of the conflict in the Middle East since the Hamas terrorist attack (on Israel) on 7 October. Too many have been killed,” William said in a statement.

In 2018, William became the first senior British royal to make an official visit to Israel and occupied Palestinian territory, and since then, he has followed the region closely, his office said.

In response to Prince William, Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy said: “Israelis of course want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible, and that will be possible once the 134 hostages are released, and once the Hamas terror army threatening to repeat the October 7 atrocities is dismantled.”

Kensington Palace added that Britain’s Foreign Office had been briefed about William’s statement before he made it.

“Sometimes it is only when faced with the sheer scale of human suffering that the importance of permanent peace is brought home,” he said.

The 41-year-old prince visited the British Red Cross headquarters in London on Tuesday to hear about their work supporting people affected by war in the Middle East.

“I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible,” he said. “There is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza. It’s critical that aid gets in and the hostages are released.”

In further comment, Israel’s Levy said: “We appreciate the Prince of Wales’ call for Hamas to free the hostages.

“We also recall with gratitude his statement from October 11 condemning Hamas’ terror attacks and reaffirming Israel’s right of self-defense against them.”

Next week William is due to visit a synagogue where he will hear from young people who are involved in tackling hatred and antisemitism. Last year was the worst on record for cases of antisemitism in Britain, according to a Jewish advisory body.

With his father King Charles currently absent from official public duties as he undergoes treatment for cancer, William has been expected to take on more high-profile engagements.

In general, British royals avoid making statements on political issues, but before his father became king, he spoke out on matters close to his heart.

Charles has called the Hamas attacks in southern Israel “barbaric acts of terrorism,” and also appealed for greater religious tolerance at a time of “international turmoil.”

Global calls for an end to the fighting in Gaza have mounted in recent weeks, as Israel prepares to expand its ground assault to the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million of the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza have sought shelter.

More than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, according to local health authorities, since Israel invaded the enclave following the Hamas attack in which 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and 253 hostages seized.