The UK has a “duty” to support Israel “in her hour of need” despite the killing of three British aid workers in Gaza, a government minister has said.

A row has been raging over whether the UK should continue to sell arms to the country after the incident last week, with questions over whether Israel has breached international law through its actions in the conflict.

Opposition parties and a raft of legal experts have demanded the government publishes the legal advice it has been given on whether sales should continue to ensure the UK is not complicit in any law-breaking activities.

But speaking to Sky News’ Breakfast with Kay Burley, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said there was “a long convention under governments of all different colours that that advice is not made public”, and there were no plans to publish it.

Follow live: Pressure builds on ministers to publish Israel legal advice

The World Central Kitchen vehicle wrecked by an Israeli strike which killed seven aid workers. Pic: AP

Pushed over whether the government was comfortable supporting Israel after the death of the British aid workers, the minister said: “We are very uncomfortable with what happened. We are appalled with what happened. The prime minister has spoken to the Israeli prime minister about that.

“We are also very uncomfortable about the amount of aid that’s getting into Israel, which is why we’ve been working very hard to increase that.”

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Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride arriving in Downing Street, London, for a Cabinet meeting. Picture date: Tuesday January 9, 2024. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: James Manning/PA Wire
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride insisted the government had ‘robust’ processes in place. Pic: PA

He added: “We should be supporting [Israel], particularly in her hour of need… however, that is not an unconditional support.

“We expect Israel not to do the kinds of things that happened with the aid workers. And we have made very clear that we are appalled by what happened there.

“We do expect – and the Americans do, as well as others – that aid will be going into Gaza, where we are beginning to move into a famine situation, which we are very concerned about. So it has [to] be a balanced approach.”

On the legal advice, Mr Stride sort to allay fears by saying the UK had “robust processes” in place to make sure the law was being followed, and it was being “constantly reviewed”.

But while he would not commit to publishing the advice, he said: “As things stand right at this particular moment in time, the advice… is that there shouldn’t be any change in the current arrangements.”

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Shadow health minister Abena Oppong-Asare reiterated Labour’s call to see the legal advice, telling Kay Burley: “I think it is really concerning and we really need to see the guidance, the legal advice that has been given to the foreign secretary.

“It needs to be published so that if it says that selling arms is a breach of international human rights law then we really need to look at making sure action is taken to suspend it.”

Sunday marked six months since the attacks in Israel by Hamas that sparked the conflict and saw 1,200 people killed. There are still 129 hostages unaccounted for, with at least 34 presumed dead.

Since then, more than 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza and over 75,000 injured, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.