JJP eaction letters to Members of Parliament

On 25 February JJP commenced an advertising campaign in the Independent online to generate eaction letters about Gaza to MPs. At the same time, the Executive emailed signatories and supporters, asking them to send the letter to their MPs. The Independent campaign lasted 15 days.

It was followed 10 days later by a second eaction letter campaign based on emailing our signatories and supporters to generate the letters. The second campaign lasted for three weeks. The Executive sent a reminder ermail and modified the letter after two weeks to respond to a particularly egregious action by Israel which generated a lot of media coverage.

The two campaigns together generated 426 letters to 145 MPs.

The final version of the letter is below:

Dear ………………. MP,

I am writing to you as a constituent, horrified by what Israel is doing in Gaza. High Representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, spoke the truth to the United Nations Security Council on 12 March. He said “And starvation is being used as a weapon of war.”

Israel is compounding the cruelty of the five-months bombardment by strangulating the humanitarian aid agencies in Gaza.

According to the United Nations, nearly 200 aid workers — the vast majority of them Palestinians — have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war in October, more than three times the death toll recorded in any single conflict in a single year. On April 1st, the Israeli army rocketed three World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid cars, killing all seven people in them. WCK had informed the Israeli army of the route of the cars, which were clearly marked WCK on the roofs and rear windows. There was no excuse for the attack.

But killing is not Israel’s only tactic. It is quietly imposing severe bureaucratic restrictions on the aid agencies work. This has been exposed in the past few weeks.

On 22 February, the Commissioner General of UNRWA, Phillipe Lazzarini, sent an open letter to the President of the United Nations General Assembly which listed 11 Israeli measures that are clearly designed to obstruct UNRWA’s work. To list just five of them here:

  • A Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem has taken steps to evict UNRWA from its HQ of 75 years in East Jerusalem.
  • Visas for most international staff, including those in Gaza, have been limited to one or two months.
  • The Minister for Finance has stated that he will revoke UNRWA’s tax exemption privileges.
  • Customs authorities have suspended shipment of UNRWA goods.
  • An Israeli bank has blocked an UNRWA account.

The Commissioner General also noted that the Israeli government had still not provided him with any evidence for its unproved allegations that 12 UNRWA employees, out of the 13,000 in Gaza, were involved in the 7 October attack. You may already know that the European Union has reinstated its funding of UNRWA, having found the Israeli “evidence” of involvement unconvincing.

On 29 February, The Guardian revealed that “Dozens of foreign aid workers, including heads of organisations, have had to leave Israel and the Palestinian territories” because Israel was not renewing their visas. “Israel has stopped issuing visas for international staff.” “Emergency response teams, who have the specialist experience to deal with the multiple challenges of working in Gaza, are particularly affected…”

Finally, on 7 March, the NGO Refugees International issued a damning report on Israel’s practices of denying humanitarian aid. Among their conclusions, “Despite its claims to be facilitating humanitarian aid,…Israeli conduct has consistently and groundlessly impeded aid operations within Gaza, blocked legitimate relief operations, and resisted implementing measures that would genuinely enhance the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

And, “Israel has not complied with the ICJ {International Court of Justice} provisional measures” in its 26 January decision. The Court ordered “The State of Israel shall take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip”. “The average number of trucks delivered in February has fallen by 50 percent, according to UN data.”

The ICJ reinforced its provisional measures by issuing new measures on 28 March, ordering Israel to increase the provision of basic humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip, including food, water, fuel and shelter. “Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine… but that famine is setting in”.

Reading all this in conjunction with the bombing and destruction of infrastructure, it is hard not to conclude that the Israeli government is intent on forcing the Palestinians out of Gaza, if not by bombing then by starvation. The Egyptian government obviously fears it will eventually be forced to accept hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing for their lives from Rafah. The 21 sq. km walled refugee camp it is building on its side of the border testifies to that.

Western governments, including our own, have been profoundly shocked by the barbaric Hamas attack on 7th October, but even more so by Israel’s barbaric, continuing response. We implore you to use your voice to demand that our government reinstates its support for UNRWA and demands that Israel cease forthwith blocking the work of UNRWA and other aid agencies.

More widely, our government must join with others to insist that Israel ends the occupation and allows the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination, if necessary applying meaningful economic and diplomatic pressure on Israel. Otherwise, violence, instability and mass suffering will be endemic in the future as in the past.

Thank you for your support,

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