Here is our lobbying letter, sent to Boris Johnson on 9 May. We also copied it to the Leaders and Foreign Affairs spokespeople of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists and asked them to raise the issue in Parliament.
E-mail the Foreign Secretary and your own MP, using our letter as a model, or just e-mail in support. The address for the Foreign Secretary is: Genevieve.McCarthy@fco.gov.uk
Also attend the demonstration outside the Israeli embassy. details below
9 May 2018
Rt. Hon., Boris Johnson
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Dear Foreign Secretary,
Many of our signatories wrote to you after the Israeli forces’ lethal response to the first Palestinian protest march on 30 March. Since then, the weekly protests at the Gaza fence have continued every Friday. According to the United Nations, 45 Palestinians have now been killed and more than 5,000 have been shot.
By any reasonable consideration, the Israeli army’s repeated actions have been a willfully brutal response to a series of unarmed protests against the illegal occupation and settlement project that has lasted 51 years, and the illegal siege of Gaza that has lasted 11 years.
The shootings are a result of the rules of engagement the army has applied to Gaza, compounded by the Israeli government’s attitude. Soldiers are permitted to fire live rounds at demonstrators who are classified as “central inciters” or “central rioters” — regardless of whether they actually endanger human life. Moreover, they allow soldiers to shoot demonstrators who get too close to the border fence, even if they are not posing a danger to anyone. The vagueness of the rules allows the soldiers wide latitude in deciding whether to shoot – deliberately in our view.
Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Defence Minister, said on public radio, “There are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip.” “Everyone’s connected to Hamas, everyone gets a salary from Hamas, and all the activists trying to challenge us and breach the border are Hamas military wing activists.” That clearly must have encouraged soldiers to interpret the rules of engagement in a very permissive way.
The Israeli Ambassador to the UK, on the Today programme on 8 May, advanced an illegal and callous,justification for shooting protesters who were not even near the border fence. The interviewer said, “I am asking you about those people who were shot with live ammunition on the Gaza side of the fence… The great majority of those shot were at a distance from the fence.” The Ambassador replied, “If I’m not mistaken, some 80%” of those shot in these violent confrontations were in fact signed-up members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. They were activists, they were not innocent civilians.”
Really? How exactly do the Israeli authorities know all that ? More important, does mere membership of those groups deprive people of the right to life if they dare to protest against the occupation ?
There is worse. The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in Gaza have noted that injuries are “of an unusual severity” and include “an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.” “Long-term we are preparing for years and years of reconstructive work for poor outcome limbs. The risks are both acute (sepsis, gangrene, disseminated intravascular coagulation) as well as long-term (osteomyelitis, very poor functional outcome, delayed amputation.” That sounds very like use of hollow point or expanding bullets.
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal court, Fatou Bensouda warned that “violence against civilians — in a situation such as one prevailing in Gaza” could constitute war crimes. Anyone who orders, encourages or carries out that violence, she said, “is liable to prosecution before the Court.”
We again call on you, as Foreign Secretary, to condemn Israel’s actions and for the Israeli army to be brought to book for shooting deliberately at unarmed civilians and for the ammunition they are using. We urge you to work to get the United Nations Security Council to reconvene and support the Secretary General’s call for an investigation into the deadly clashes. It is time for the British Government to fulfill its historic obligations and lead pressure to force the Israeli government to come into compliance with international law.
There will be two more more demonstrations before as Nakba Day on 15th May. Israel must not be allowed to repeat the shootings of the last six weeks.
Parliamentary and Diplomatic Liaison Officer
Jews for Justice for Palestinians, London
Demonstration: Stand up for Gaza. Stop the killing
Fri, 11 May, 17:30 – 19:30, outside the Israeli Embassy, Kensington High Street, London (map)
Please also do your very best to attend. It is essential there is as big a turnout as possible ahead of May 15, which marks the climax of the Gaza protests. JJP needs to be there! Details below.
Closest Underground: High Street Kensington Organised by: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain Supporting: Muslim Association of Britain, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Stop the War Coalition, EuroPal Forum