THE plight of 600,000 children displaced in Rafah is a “war crime” and equivalent to Scotland’s entire under-12 population being crammed into one postcode, peers have been told.

The issue of the millions crammed into Gaza’s southernmost city living in squalid conditions amid fears of an Israeli ground offensive was raised as Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron faced monthly questions.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Jeremy Purvis highlighted a report from charity Unicef which warned 600,000 children are currently displaced within Gaza.

He said: “That is comparable to the entire under-12 population of Scotland being displaced to one postcode area.”

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He went on to ask: “Does the Foreign Secretary agree with me that any belligerent in a conflict that advises children and civilians to relocate on the pretext of their safety but relocate to an area where there is no shelter, where there is no water, where there is no medicine, and where there is no security guarantees is a war crime?”

In response Cameron said he wanted the Israelis to “stop and think” before going ahead with any operations in Rafah.

“The people who are in Rafah on many occasions have already moved three, four or five times, and it is not possible to move again,” he said.

“They can’t go north as they will be going back to homes that have been destroyed, they can’t go south as that would involve going into Egypt which none of us want to see and the Egyptians don’t want to see and that is why it is so important the Israelis stop and think before going ahead with any operations in Rafah.”

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Green peer Baroness Natalie Bennett challenged the Foreign Secretary about the UK’s actions to protect children in Gaza.

She suggested it was “time to stop all arms shipments to Israel” as well as “implement targeted sanctions against members of the Israeli leadership, particularly those calling for new settlements in Gaza and on the West Bank”.

Cameron replied: “We want to see an end to the suffering, an end to this killing. Let me just make this point that the pause we are calling for, we want to turn into a ceasefire by making sure the conditions are right for getting a stop in the fighting to mean a permanent ceasefire.

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“The way you do that is by fulfilling a number of conditions. You have got to get in our view the Hamas leaders out of Gaza, otherwise any ceasefire won’t last because the problem will still be there.

“You have got to dismantle the operation of terrorist attacks, you have got to have a new Palestinian Authority government in place, you have got to give the Palestinian people a political horizon to a better future and a two-state solution, and crucially you have got to release all of the hostages and do that very quickly.”

He also said the UK Government had “absolutely” challenged the Israel Government over individual episodes.

“I have done that personally with them over for instance a building that was bombed that had UK medics and other charities in, and we will continue to do that as part of the very important process that we go through to judge whether they are compliant with international humanitarian law,” he added.