LONDON, June 3 (Reuters) - British sandwich and coffee chain Pret A Manger said it has given up on a plan to open stores in Israel, blaming travel restrictions on UK staff as a result of Israel's war against Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The retailer, owned by investment firm JAB and founder Sinclair Beecham, signed an agreement with Israeli retail group Fox Group and foodservice business Yarzin Sella Group in December 2022 to introduce the Pret brand into Israel.

However, no Pret shops have opened in Israel since.

It was not immediately clear how advanced the store opening plans were.

"We have taken the difficult decision to end our current agreement with Fox Group and Yarzin Sella Group," a Pret spokesperson said.

"The significant ongoing travel restrictions have meant that our teams have not been able to conduct the checks and training needed to set up Pret in a new market. Under the terms of Pret's travel insurance, any colleagues travelling to Israel would not be insured."

In 2021, Pret set out a plan to double the size of its business by 2026. It currently trades from over 650 shops in 18 markets.

Israel has laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip since Hamas attacked southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and abducting about another 250, according to Israeli tallies.

Some Western food brands, including McDonald's and Starbucks, have faced protests and boycott campaigns against them in the Middle East over their perceived pro-Israeli stance. (Reporting by James Davey Editing by Tomasz Janowski)