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LONDON: Britain supports Israel’s right to take proportionate action that is within international law to bring an end to violence, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said on Monday, following Israeli retaliation to a shock attack by Hamas group.

“We support Israel exercising its right to self defence and to taking proportionate action to bring an end to the violence,” the spokesman told reporters. “In situations like this they can take proportionate action … acting within international laws.”

The spokesman said there were no plans to redeploy British military assets to the region, but noted there was already a British warship in the Mediterranean carrying out NATO duties and Britain has an air force base in Cyprus.

Fighters from the Hamas group killed 700 Israelis and abducted dozens in Saturday’s attacks, the deadliest such incursion in decades, prompting Israel to retaliate by pounding the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

Britain’s Foreign Office is working urgently with Israeli authorities to establish the status of its nationals in the area, Sunak’s spokesman said. The government estimates there are around 50,000-60,000 Britons, including dual nationals, in Israel or Gaza.

Asked whether Britain planned to follow Austria in suspending its aid to Palestinians, Sunak’s spokesman said Britain had previously provided aid to Palestinian refugees via the United Nations.

“I’m not aware of any plans to change our aid approach, but obviously this is a fast moving situation,” he said.

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