JJP is horrified by the current Israel/Gaza conflict. The attack on Israeli civilians was a war crime and a crime against humanity. The same can be said of the massive, continuing Israeli attacks on Gaza. Both are despicable. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad attack on civilians was totally unforgivable. So too is Israel’s current assault on Gaza, which amounts to collective punishment of the Palestinians of Gaza, the latest episode of its decades of oppression of Palestinians and denial of their rights.
The killings of innocent Israeli civilians by Hamas have been shocking, but they were not perpetrated by the mass of the Gaza population. Israel has a right to protect its citizens. But that must be done without breaking international law and without starving or killing Palestinian civilians.
The reflex reaction by the current Israeli government, so similar to that of its predecessors in response to rocket attacks, has been to visit retribution on the ordinary civilians of Gaza. This produces more hatred and perpetuates the cycle of violence.
Israel’s ongoing destruction of large areas of Gaza and its plan to continue preventing food, water, electricity and medicine going into the territory is immoral, illegal and politically unacceptable. If Israel continues to enforce a total siege (as it has said it will), then the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will be at risk through starvation and disease. It would be a war crime. The United Nations has already warned Israel not to commit such an act.
In stark contrast to the UN, much of the western world has not publicly and vigorously objected to Israel’s plans. As the former colonial power in Israel/Palestine, Britain has a special obligation to speak out. The UK government needs to both publicly and privately make that crystal clear to the Israeli government.
Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians over the decades has already generated huge anger and hatred. Starving over two million Palestinians will generate even more – and will make reconciliation and peace between Israelis and Palestinians virtually impossible for at least another generation.
Creating hatred on this scale is not in Israel’s interests. Israel can only achieve real security by coming to a long-term agreement with the Palestinians. Allowing the Middle East to further destabilise is not in Britain’s geopolitical or economic interests.