Israel appears to be getting deeper and deeper into trouble with each passing day as traditional friends turn foes, both at home and abroad. The elite of the United Kingdom, who were firm supporters of Israel, are now against the war in Gaza and are calling for an arms embargo against it.

United States’ President Joe Biden, who had once proudly declared that he was a Zionist, is now telling Israel to go for an immediate ceasefire. He further said that US policy will change if it does not follow the tenets of international humanitarian law in the Gaza war.

In Israel itself, orthodox Jews have told Netanyahu that they will not submit themselves to conscription abandoning their religious studies. The widening rift between secular and orthodox Jews is threatening to bring down Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition government which is already unpopular for its ham-handed conduct of the war against Hamas.

All this while in the West, protesters against Israeli atrocities in Gaza were mainly ordinary folk and university students. But the death of seven Western aid workers in Israeli air strikes in Gaza on Monday has drawn the Western elite into the protests.

Eleven aid workers working for the World Central Kitchen (WCK) including British, Australian, Palestinian, American-Canadian, Polish nationals, were killed while they were unloading more than 100 tonnes of food aid in Gaza.

According to WCK this was a military attack that involved multiple strikes and targeted three WCK vehicles.

“All three vehicles were carrying civilians; they were marked as WCK vehicles; and their movements were in full compliance with Israeli authorities, who were aware of their itinerary, route and humanitarian mission.”

“An independent investigation is the only way to determine the truth of what happened, ensure transparency and accountability for those responsible, and prevent future attacks on humanitarian aid workers,” the aid agency said.

In the UK, three former Supreme Court justices joined more than 600 legal experts in calling on the UK government to end weapons sales to Israel.

In the 17-page letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the signatories said that "serious action" was needed to "avoid UK complicity in grave breaches of international law, including potential violations of the Genocide Convention".

The sale of arms and weapons systems to Israel "falls significantly short" of the government's obligations under international law, given the "plausible risk of genocide" in Gaza, which the letter said was highlighted in a provisional judgement issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January.

According to the BBC, the letter asked the government to help restore funding to the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, after it was suspended over allegations employees were involved in the October 7 attacks on Israel; impose sanctions on "individuals and entities who have made statements inciting genocide against Palestinians"; suspend ongoing diplomatic and "enhanced trade deal" negotiations with Israel; launch a review into suspending the UK's existing trade deal and "consider the imposition of sanctions" on Israel.

The signatories included former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption, along with nine other retired judges and 69 senior barristers.

Sumption told the BBC that the UK had a duty to prevent genocide. "The framework of international law around war does not mean countries can act in whatever they want, even if they are attacked outrageously".

“It doesn't mean to say that you can indiscriminately slaughter innocent civilians and children. It doesn't mean to say you can attack aid convoys. It doesn't mean to say you can spend two weeks flattening hospitals. There are limits to what people can do, even in self-defence," Sumption said.

Speaking to the ‘Sun’ newspaper, Prime Minister Sunak called for an independent investigation, but stopped short of saying arms sales should end. He added that the UK had been "consistently clear" with Israel that it must follow international humanitarian law.

The UK has licensed arms to Israel worth over BP 574 million since 2008. The BBC points out that arms export licences cannot be issued if there is a clear risk the weapons could be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

The ruling Conservative party is divided on the issue and the opposition Labour Party is cautious. Paul Bristow MP said the idea that British-made arms could be used in action that kills innocent civilians in Gaza "turns the stomach." But his fellow Tory MP and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman rejected a ban, telling the BBC "we owe it to Israel to stand with them".

Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers said the UK should support Israel "in exercising its right to defend itself from a truly horrific terrorist attack".

She told the BBC: “It is a tragic outcome of war that innocents lose their lives, it does not mean that Israel is in breach of international humanitarian law and in those circumstances it is legitimate to continue to supply them with arms exports."

The opposition Labour Party has not called for a suspension, but is urging the government to publish internal legal advice. However, the BBC quoted Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy as saying that former PMs Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair had suspended arms sales in 1982 and 2002 respectively.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has declared that future support for Israel would depend on it taking concrete action to protect civilians and aid workers. On Thursday Biden called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza in a phone call to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

“He made it clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the safety of aid workers”, the White House said in a statement.

“He made it clear that US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.” Biden said that an “immediate ceasefire is essential” and urged Israel to reach a deal with Hamas “without delay”, the White House said.

Secretary of State, Antony Blinken told reporters in Brussels: “If we don’t see the changes that we need to see, there will be changes in our policy.

“Right now, there is no higher priority in Gaza than protecting civilians, surging humanitarian assistance and ensuring the security of those who provide it. Israel must meet this moment.”

In response, Netanyahu’s office said on Friday that his security cabinet has approved a series of steps to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, including the “temporary” reopening of the Erez crossing, a key crossing into Gaza.

According to the statement, more aid would also be allowed through the port of Ashdod, which lies about 40 km north of Gaza, and authorities would also allow “increased Jordanian aid through Kerem Shalom. But the Israel statement added that the increased aid will “ensure the continuation of the fighting and to achieve the goals of the war,” whatever that means.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is facing resolute opposition from the Orthodox Jews, who say that their attention will be diverted from studying the Torah if they were forced to join the army.

There are about 60,000 such religious students between the ages of 18 and 26. Prime Minister Netanyahu is desperate to meet the manpower shortage in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) through conscription.

He wants to stop the funding of schools for the orthodox Jews if they do not join the defence forces and in this he has the support of the secular right wing parties.

The parties of the secular right and the orthodox have both threatened to quit the rickety coalition if Netanyahu does not go their way.