A group of UK-based organisations campaigning on Palestinian rights have responded to Israel’s latest bombing of the Gaza strip. Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War, Friends of Al Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain and Palestinian Forum in Britain, who are the main organisers of a national day of action for Palestine on Saturday 30th March, have condemned the attacks and called for the UK government to push for an immediate ceasefire in order to protect civilians.
On Monday afternoon, Israeli forces began dropping bombs in the Gaza strip, claiming that the bombardment was a “response” to a rocket launched from Gaza earlier on Monday. The campaigning groups assert that they do not support any act of violence aimed at civilians in contravention of international law.
Campaigners have highlighted that this assault by Israel occurs in the context of a 52 year long military occupation, and in the 12th year of an illegal siege that has created a man made humanitarian crisis so severe that the UN has stated that Gaza will not be fit for human habitation by 2020 unless it is lifted. The groups say they fear they are witnessing the launch of Israel’s 4th major assault on Gaza since 2009, likely to cause huge numbers of Palestinian casualties.
In 2008/9 Israel launched “Operation Cast Lead”, during which over 1300 Palestinians were killed. Then in 2012, Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defence” killed over 160 Palestinians. 2 years later in “Operation Protective Edge”, the Israeli military killed over 2200 Palestinians.
This latest attack comes one week after a report adopted by the UN Human Rights Council accused Israel of committing war crimes against unarmed civilians along the Gaza fence, including medics, journalists and children. Since the start of the protest “Great March of Return”, begun on March 30th 2018, over 200 demonstrators have been killed and over 27000 injured.
The latest “Protection of Civilians” report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) detailed that 24 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2019, in the West Bank and Gaza.
Kamel Hawwash, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “These bombings are a serious attack on the most densely populated area in the world and may well represent the beginning of a devastating assault on Gaza like the ones we saw in 2009, 2012 and 2014. We call on the UK government to pressure Israel to end its attack to prevent further loss of civilian life. We also call on UK citizens to join the national day of action on Saturday 30th March in solidarity with the Palestinian people, taking place at 20 different location across the country, including a rally outside the Israeli Embassy in London. We must show that the people of Palestine are not alone.”