War on Want statement on Israel’s assault on Gaza

15 November 2012 - 3:13pm

On 14 November 2012, the Israeli army began attacking Gaza with drones, Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, and naval vessels. Israel launched its offensive dubbed Operation Pillar of Defence with the assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari, chief of staff of Hamas’ military wing. Following this attack, a series of airstrikes was launched, targeting civilian areas throughout occupied Gaza. Fears of military escalation are now rising, especially after the Israeli army dropped leaflets in the north of Gaza warning of an overland invasion in the area. War on Want is in touch with Palestinian and international human rights campaigners reporting from inside Gaza’s already strained hospitals as the number of injured continues to rise.

Shelling of Gaza
Photo credit: PA Photos Limited

After a day of attacks on the civilian population of Gaza, the British government has failed to condemn Israel’s aggression.  The British government instead has given Israel the green light to continue escalating its military operations by putting the sole blame for the situation on Hamas, ignoring Israel’s continued military occupation and siege. Speaking today the Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis. I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza.” The Foreign Secretary’s statement is the latest example of the government’s decision to ignore  international law with respect to Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people.

This attack marks the latest stage of a policy of collective punishment and killing practised by Israel against the people of Gaza. Israel has imposed an illegal siege on Gaza and created a devastating humanitarian crisis for the 1.5 million people trapped there. In 2009, 1,400 Palestinians were killed and 5000 more injured during Israeli assault on Gaza.  A senior Israeli official described Israel’s policy in Gaza saying “the idea” is to “put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

Israel's latest attack on civilians in Gaza is a war crime, made possible only through the continued financial, military and diplomatic support Israel receives from Western states. The UK government and other EU member states are rewarding Israeli aggression with economic trade preferences. The UK government has licensed the sale of millions of pounds worth of arms to Israel, including key components for F-16 fighter jets. Such equipment was used during the 2009 assault on Gaza and the British government has repeatedly admitted it does not accept Israeli assurances that British arms will not be deployed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

War on Want calls on the UK government to condemn Israel’s action and to end its complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. The government must introduce a two-way arms embargo on Israel and place sanctions on the Israeli government until it ends its violations of international law.

The root cause of the crisis in Gaza is Israel's illegal occupation. War on Want is committed to playing its part in the search for a lasting peace based on justice for the Palestinian people, ending violence once and for all. The principal barrier to peace with justice is Israel’s continuing violations of human rights and international law and its policies of collective punishment. We call on all people of conscience to join the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel until it complies with international law.

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