Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused Israel of undertaking an “act of cleansing of the entire population of Gaza”.

The Islington North MP said Israel’s response is in “no way proportionate” to the “appalling events” of October 7, which saw 1,200 Israelis killed when Hamas carried out its attack.

Mr Corbyn sought assurances that there are no British soldiers “on the ground in Gaza”.

(PA Graphics)

His remarks came during a Commons session in which Foreign Office minister Leo Docherty said talk of a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict is “premature”, amid calls from MPs for an end to the fighting.

Mr Docherty said Hamas being “committed to the destruction” of Israel means the UK Government continues to press for a further humanitarian pause – rather than a ceasefire – to free hostages and allow aid to reach Gaza.

Conservative former minister Rehman Chishti said the “time has come” for the UK to work towards a ceasefire while several Labour backbenchers supported a “permanent ceasefire”.

Speaking during the urgent question, Independent MP Mr Corbyn told the Commons: “Israel is clearly undertaking an act of cleansing of the entire population of Gaza.

“It is illegal within international law and is in no way a proportionate response to the appalling events of October 7.

“So could I ask him what does he think Israel’s long-term objective is? Is it to expel the entire population of Gaza into Egypt?

“And could he say what is the role and purpose and military objective of British military participation in the whole area? And can he assure us that there are no British soldiers on the ground in Gaza?”

Mr Docherty replied: “Unsurprisingly I don’t share his assessment or his view of the context.

“It’s clear that the Israeli objective is to defend itself against a terrorist group of Hamas.”

Elsewhere during the urgent question, Mr Docherty said: “Regretfully, discussion of a ceasefire, it seems, is premature given that Hamas is committed to the destruction of the state of Israel. We are resolutely committed to another humanitarian pause and we are using all means that are available to us.”

Mr Chishti then told the House: “Having supported humanitarian pauses before, a time has come for the UK to work towards a ceasefire, release of all the hostages, humanitarian assistance and a political solution in line with our own Security Council resolution 242 on the ’67 borders; when will we push that at the Security Council and lead the world on this matter?”

Mr Docherty also said the Government is looking at the possibility of shipping humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Conservative former minister Kit Malthouse asked: “If the RAF can fly surveillance planes over the Gaza Strip in the much-needed search for hostages and to help in their release, what is to stop us flying cargo planes over and parachuting food and medicine to a starving population?”

Mr Docherty replied: “A very significant tonnage of humanitarian aid has been delivered by UK aircrafts, 74 times currently, we are doubling that.

He added: “Greater utility lies in the assessment as to whether or not there could be a maritime route for an increase in humanitarian supplies.”