Britain has imposed sanctions on four Israeli individuals, saying they “threatened and committed acts of aggression and violence” against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
It follows a similar move by the US, which recently imposed sanctions on several Israeli settlers accused of violence against Palestinians.
The news comes as the foreign minister and prime minister called on Israel to “stop and think seriously” before taking further action in Rafah, south of Gaza.
Speaking to reporters in East Kilbride, Scotland, Lord David Cameron said the government was “very concerned” about the situation in Rafah and wanted “Israel to stop and think seriously before taking any further action”.
The government statement said the latest sanctions would target extremist Israeli settlers who have “violently attacked Palestinians” in the occupied West Bank.
The sanctions will impose economic and travel restrictions in an effort to address ongoing settler violence that threatens the stability of the West Bank. The government statement said the sanctions used “physical assault, threatened families at gunpoint and destroyed property as part of a targeted and calculated effort to displace Palestinian communities.”
Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said: “Today's sanctions put restrictions on those involved in some of the most egregious human rights abuses. We need to be clear about what is going on here. Extremist Israeli settlers threaten Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and force them to leave land that is rightfully theirs.
“This behavior is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must also take stronger action and stop settler violence. All too often, we see promises made and commitments made, but not kept.
He added: “Extremist settlers, by targeting and attacking Palestinian civilians, undermine security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Downing Street echoed the Foreign Secretary's calls for Israel to “stop and think seriously” before taking military action against Hamas in Rafah, southern Gaza.
The prime minister's official spokesman said: “Obviously we are deeply concerned about the prospect of a military attack on Rafah.
“Over half of Gaza's population is sheltering there and that transit is vital to ensure that aid can reach the people who desperately need it
“The priority in Gaza must be an immediate cessation of fighting to get aid in and the hostages out, so that we can then make progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”