Gaza can’t wait: The new UK government must act urgently to save lives

Gaza is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as a result of nine months of Israel’s relentless military offensive, siege, and acts that UN human rights experts and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have concluded may plausibly amount to atrocity crimes, including genocide.

More than 38,000 people have been killed and 87,000 injured. 90% of the population has been displaced, many of them multiple times. Half a million people face catastrophic levels of hunger. 500 health workers have been killed, and the health system is being systematically dismantled.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Palestinians are experiencing unparalleled levels of Israeli military and settler violence, as settlement building and de facto annexation accelerate. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and across the Middle East face an uncertain future due to growing regional instability and cuts to UNRWA funding.

The last 14 years – and the decades before it – have been marked by a comprehensive failure by the UK to adequately address this chronic humanitarian crisis, or its root cause: impunity for Israel’s perpetual occupation, systematic discrimination, and manifold violations of international law against the Palestinian people.

The incoming UK government has pledged to rapidly increase aid into Gaza and push for an immediate ceasefire, both of which are essential to preventing more lives being lost from bombardment, starvation and disease. It has also made welcome commitments to upholding international law in the Middle East, and respect for the ICJ and International Criminal Court.

All lights on the humanitarian dashboard are flashing red. Palestinians cannot wait any longer. We hope these commitments will be matched by swift and decisive action to save lives and prevent further deterioration.

We therefore urge the new UK government to take the following essential steps in its first 100 days:

1) Immediately halt arms sales to Israel, to prevent their use in violations of international law, including attacks on healthcare

2) Work urgently to secure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza that enables aid efforts, ensures Gaza’s contiguity, and allows displaced people to return to and rebuild their homes

3) Immediately surge support for frontline humanitarian response in Gaza and the West Bank, including a full restoration of UK funding to UNRWA

4) Set out a plan for how the UK will uphold its responsibilities under international law, including how it will use the mechanisms at its disposal to uphold the independence, mandates and decisions of the international courts.

5) Recognise and denounce the building of settlements in the West Banks as de facto annexation, and outline what tangible steps it will take to oppose further settlement activity

We look forward to meeting with the government soon to discuss further how the UK can uphold Palestinians’ rights to health, dignity and justice.

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