The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has expressed deep concern at Israel’s latest escalation of violence against the besieged population of Gaza, which has included ongoing heavy shelling. Early reports indicate that there have been a number of casualties, and that a range of civilian targets have been hit, including a building belonging to the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights.
Israel’s renewal of bombing follows the extrajudicial assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Commander Baha Abu Al Ata at his home in Gaza, in which his wife was also killed, and the targeting of a home belonging to another PIJ official in Damascus. This clearly premeditated killing is in violation of international law. In carrying out the killing the IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi made Israel’s attentions clear in a televised address, stating “we are preparing for escalation from the ground, air and sea.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to justify the extra judicial killing and the bombing campaign as acts of self defence.
However, PSC has highlighted that these acts occur in the context of Israel maintaining an illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza that is now in its 52nd year, in defiance of international law, and an illegal siege of Gaza now in its 12th year, that is rendering conditions of life so desperate that the UN has declared Gaza will not be fit for human habitation by 2020 unless the siege is lifted. The campaigning organisation has stressed that any violence used in the context of Israel sustaining an illegal occupation cannot, by definition, be justified by self defence.
The attacks also come in a week where Israeli soldiers have been filmed shooting dead a 22 year old Palestinian from Hebron, a killing condemned by Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special coordinator for The Middle East Peace Process, who called for an investigation given that the victim, Omar A Badawi, was clearly posing no threat when he was shot.
Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “The failure of the international community, including the UK government, to hold Israel to account results in Israel believing it can carry out extra judicial killings and bombing assaults with impunity. Whilst the UK continues to arm Israel despite its violations of human rights and contraventions of international law, we are made complicit in these acts. We call upon all UK citizens committed to respect for human rights and the rule of law to join us in our campaigns to pressure the UK government and companies to end this complicity.”
Palestine Solidarity Campaign called on the UK Government to condemn Israel’s latest escalation, including its policy of targeted assassinations, and to demand that Israel ends its bombing campaign.
In addition, it called on the UK to call on Israel to end the siege of Gaza which amounts to collective punishment, illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and to fulfil its duties under international law to hold Israel to account for its ongoing illegal occupation that it is only able to sustain though such acts of illegitimate violence. In this regard PSC reiterates its call for an end to the UKs sale of weapons to Israel that are used to violate Palestinian human rights and for the UK to ban the import of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements.