Gaza: ‘unacceptable, unjustified and illegal’

Posted on 22/07/2014 by


Lazarowicz calls for ceasefire and an end to Israeli military action

GAZA: Thousands took to the Glasgow streets to protest on Saturday

GAZA: Thousands took to the Glasgow streets to protest on Saturday

As the fighting in Gaza has continued with reports of an Israeli attack hitting a Gaza hospital with the loss of four lives, North and Leith MP Mark Lazarowicz has condemned the conduct of military action by Israel in Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire in a letter to the Foreign Secretary.

The conflict has so far seen the death toll rise to well over 500, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian civilians including more than one hundred children.

In his letter to the Foreign Secretary, Mark Lazarowicz called for an immediate ceasefire to be monitored by the international community and humanitarian relief to be allowed to reach Palestinians in Gaza.

After the conflict saw its worst day yet on Sunday with the death of 100 more Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers, the local MP said: “I have written to the Foreign Secretary to urge the Government to exert pressure on Israel to end military action in Gaza and redouble efforts to bring about an immediate ceasefire.

“Like people around the world, I have been shocked by the present conflict and scenes such the bodies on a beach. I completely condemn the violence on all sides, including the rocket attacks on Israel.

“Nevertheless, the scale and conduct of the Israeli military operation is unacceptable, unjustified and illegal: in practice it is the civilian population of Gaza which is suffering its consequences.

“I am calling for an immediate internationally verified ceasefire and humanitarian relief to be allowed into Gaza to be followed by a renewed peace initiative which would see the lifting of the blockade of Gaza.”

According to OCHA (the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) the number of displaced persons now totals 84,000.

The North and Leith Labour MP went on: “I am concerned that with electricity and water supplies being affected we could face a humanitarian emergency if the fighting continues. Political engagement by the international community is vital to bring about a ceasefire with so many being forced to flee their homes.”

children-cryingThe Scottish Government has confirmed that the country ‘stands ready’ to accept Palestinian refugees.

Speaking on Saturday, External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf said: “The start of a ground offensive is a serious and worrying development. The lives lost in this conflict are individual human tragedies and the killing of innocent civilians, be they Palestinian or Israeli, is to be utterly condemned. The rocket attacks on Israel are unacceptable and should stop, as should the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which is heavily disproportionate, as demonstrated by the mounting civilian death toll.

“As a Government we continue to call for a complete cessation to all violence and add our voice to those in the international community for an immediate, longer term ceasefire, and that both sides in this conflict put an end to the violence that is causing so many civilian deaths and injuries.

“The worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza has been well documented and the UN now estimates that over 18,000 people have been internally displaced. I have today written to the Home Secretary and told her that Scotland would be willing to accept Palestinian refugees and urged the UK to also play a part in easing the refugee crisis in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“It is essential that the UN should be allowed to independently investigate all civilian deaths to determine whether there has been any violation of international law.

“Our offer of medical assistance to help the humanitarian situation still stands and we are currently in dialogue with the appropriate Governments and agencies to assess whether Scotland can give specialist medical help to civilians caught up in the conflict should should this prove possible.

“The Scottish Government also believes that the continuation of the blockade in Gaza is exacerbating the suffering experienced by the people there and tantamount to collective punishment. For that reason I recently wrote to the UK Government to exert further pressure on the Israeli Government to bring that blockade to an end.”

UK Aid Shelter Kits and Water Containers are loaded for shipmentThe UK government yesterday announced the UK will provide more than £5 million in emergency support to help tens of thousands of people affected by the violence in Gaza.

This includes £2 million in new funding announced by Prime Minister David Cameron for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) Flash Appeal, which will provide emergency assistance to more than 84,000 people who have been driven out of their homes.

A further £3 million in funding will be brought forward to help the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) respond to the worsening situation and funding will also be reallocated to help rebuild UNRWA schools that are being used as shelters.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “The escalation in violence has had a devastating impact on civilians. More than 500 Palestinians are now reported to have been killed with at least 83 children among the dead and more than 100,000 people have had to flee their homes.

“This new support from the UK will provide lifesaving food, shelter and clean water to those in desperate need as a result of the fighting. We must see an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire to prevent further civilian loss of life, followed by a return to peaceful negotiations.”

The UK Government has said that all sides must adhere to International Humanitarian Law and humanitarian supplies must be allowed to reach people in need. The security of both Israelis and Palestinians remains paramount, but restrictions that damage the economy and prospects for ordinary people in Gaza must be eased. A prosperous and stable Gaza is firmly in Israel’s security interests.