Great Return March: Sign the petition and send a letter to your MP
On the 30th March 2018 Palestinians launched the “Great Return March”, a peaceful series of demonstrations reaffirming the Palestinian right of return – as enshrined by international law – and protesting against the inhumane living conditions caused by a decade long illegal blockade of Gaza.
The Israeli government responded to unarmed civilian protestors with violence, and has indicated it will continue using live ammunition against Palestinians exercising their right to demonstrate.
As of the 10th April 2018, at least 31 Palestinians have been killed, 1297 shot, and a further 1554 injured. With demonstrations set to continue up until the 15th May - to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the 1948 “Nakba” when Palestinians were expelled from their land - it is essential that the international community intervenes to prevent further massacres.
According to Human Rights Watch, “Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force, but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a bloody military response to the Palestinian demonstrations. The result was foreseeable deaths and injuries of demonstrators on the other side of a border who posed no imminent threat to life.” It is notable that there has not been a single Israeli casualty, and that Palestinians have refrained from escalating violence despite the attacks on them.
The targeting of civilians is a war crime, and there is now ample evidence of Israeli forces carrying out extrajudicial killings of unarmed demonstrators and even members of the press. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman shockingly responded to this by claiming that there are “no innocent people in Gaza”.
The refusal of the Israeli government to investigate the use of lethal force against civilians demonstrates how little regard they have for Palestinian lives. Israel, as an occupying power, is legally responsible for the wellbeing of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Despite this, Israel have imposed a debilitating decade long siege on Gaza that has triggered major socio-economic and health crises. 80% of the population are dependent on humanitarian aid to survive, and 42% of essential medicines are currently at zero stock.
The UN warns that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020 unless urgent action is taken. As it stands, 97% of the water is not safe for consumption and there are electrical blackouts for around 16 hours each day. Former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stated that “the closure of Gaza suffocates its people… It’s a collective punishment for which there must be accountability.”
In the face of ongoing Palestinian suffering, the UK government still continues to approve arms exports to Israel despite its own guidelines prohibiting any sales of weapons that risk being used in violation of international law.
We, the undersigned, therefore call upon the British government to fulfil its legal obligations as a third state actor in upholding international law. We call upon the government to:
- Support the UN’s call for an independent and effective investigation into the use of lethal force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians exercising their right to demonstrate.
- Take immediate action to end the siege of Gaza, which is illegal as a form of collective punishment.
- Ensure UK arms, finance, and trade are not used to support Israel’s unlawful actions.
(Send an email to your MP by entering your postcode, and automatically have your name added to the petition above)