The one year anniversary of the 51 day attack on Gaza by Israel was marked in Parliament yesterday with a debate on a UN report which found violations of international law and human rights abuses had occurred.
The attack on Gaza last summer saw over 2,100 Palestinians killed, over 1,460 of which were civilians including 495 children and many thousands seriously injured and during which Israel lost 65 military personnel and 5 civilians killed. – It is also estimated 108,000 people in Gaza had their homes destroyed – to date no destroyed home has been rebuilt.
Thousands of constituents have contacted me to voice their concerns about both last year’s crisis and the current situation, particularly with regard to the UN report. As I said in the debate, “It is important to recognise that although the report mentioned atrocities committed by both Hamas and Israel, it focused on the disproportionate and indiscriminate nature of the attack on Gaza. The report identifies many possible war crimes, including air strikes on residential buildings, the use of wide-area shells and heavy artillery in densely populated areas, and the targeting of civilians by Israelis, as well as the use of human shields and the execution of collaborators by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups. That must be recognised as we move forward.”
I also pressed the Minister on the need for the UK to recognise Palestine as a state – something which Parliament overwhelmingly voted for in October 2014. I also followed up my frequent questions on UK arms sales to Israel and asked whether the Government would support Palestine becoming a member of the International Criminal Court.
During the attack on Gaza last year I presented a petition, alongside Michael Meacher MP and inter-faith representatives (pictured), signed by over 8,000 Oldhamers to 10 Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to act to protect civilians on all sides and stop the suffering in Gaza. We called for a recall of Parliament for the UK to look at how we could have helped bring about a ceasefire, ensured access for humanitarian aid and worked for a long-term peace settlement.
As Vice-Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Group and a member of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East I will continue to raise Palestine in Parliament.