Israel is reportedly seeking former British prime minister and architect of the Iraq war, Tony Blair, as a humanitarian coordinator for the Gaza Strip.
The move, which one X user put it, is like appointing “Ted Bundy to babysit your children.”
Citing unnamed senior officials, the Ynet news outlet said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to leverage Blair’s experience to temper international concerns over the civilian cost of Israel’s campaign in Gaza.
According to the report, Tony Blair has already been contacted by Israel on the matter, and talks have been ongoing in recent weeks.
The outlet noted that the proposed role had not yet been clearly defined, adding there would be an emphasis on “providing medical treatment and medicines, and on the possibility of evacuating the wounded and sick from the Strip.”
Israel’s health and defense ministries are currently coordinating efforts at easing the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Tony Blair may become "humanitarian coordinator" for the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/paisL4qKeL— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) November 12, 2023
The Times of Israel reported:
The Defense Ministry and the IDF also understand that in order to obtain time for the war against Hamas, the military’s actions in Gaza need to be seen as legitimate, and that legitimacy is conditional on the humanitarian situation.
Israel has been engaged in a war with the terror group since October 7, when some 3,000 Hamas terrorists stormed the border with Israel, ravaging Israeli communities, killing at least 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostages. Israel has vowed to end Hamas’s rule over the Strip and its ability to endanger Israeli security.
As the war continues, the Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip has reported some 11,000 casualties of war.
This number cannot be independently verified and is believed to include members of the terror group, as well as civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets that fell within the Strip.
Israel has focused its ground campaign and the majority of its airstrikes on northern Gaza, the seat of Hamas power, while urging civilians to evacuate southward, repeatedly opening humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to depart.
The majority have done so, but tens of thousands are thought to remain.
It has also increasingly allowed trucks of humanitarian aid to enter the Strip’s south from Egypt through the Rafah crossing.
Still, with water, food and medicine scarce, international organizations have warned the territory could face a humanitarian catastrophe, increasing pressure on Israel by Western leaders to do more for the civilian population.
Last week, Israel announced it would be formalizing the humanitarian pauses it has been observing in northern Gaza in order to allow for evacuations to the south, away from the bulk of the fighting.
On Sunday, COGAT, the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, said that 14,320 tons of humanitarian aid had entered the Strip since the beginning of the war.
“There is no limit to the amount of food, water and medical equipment that can enter Gaza,” COGAT said. “We invite the international community to coordinate, and we will facilitate.”
Blair’s office said in a statement:
“Mr. Blair maintains an office in Israel, and he continues to work on matters tied to Israel and the Palestinians. Understandably, he has conversations with people in the region and other places in order to see what can be done, but he was not given or offered the role.”
Blair served as British premier from 1997 to 2007 and as envoy for the Quartet from 2007 to 2015. The Middle East Quartet consists of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia, and was established to help mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
It has been largely inactive in recent years as Western relations with Russia have soured.
On October 11, Blair, who is a longtime member of Labour Friends of Israel, released a statement condemning Hamas’s brutal onslaught in southern Israel, and calling for change.
“As the full nature of the barbarity and disgusting savagery of Hamas’ attack on Israel becomes clear, which the perpetrators know full well will result not only in grief and tragedy for Israelis but also for the people of Gaza, it becomes clear also that decades of conventional western diplomacy around the Israeli/Palestinian issue will need to be fundamentally re-thought,” he wrote.
Statement from Tony Blair on Hamas' attack on Israel. pic.twitter.com/kPpSgEKJgb— Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (@InstituteGC) October 11, 2023