The UK could be complicit in war crimes in Gaza and may even face legal action if it does not do more to try and force Israel to show constraint in its attacks on Palestinians, a UK MP has warned.
Tory MP for Reigate Crispin Blunt told Sky News he does not believe members of government ‘have grasped the legal peril they are in’ as he condemned Israel’s heavy bombing of the Gaza strip, a 25-mile long stretch of land in which 2.2 million people live.
The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), of which Mr Blunt is co-director, today confirmed it intends to prosecute UK government officials for ‘aiding and abetting war crimes in Gaza.’
It is estimated that 2,200 people have so far been killed by relentless airstrikes in Gaza in response to Hamas militants’ incursion onto Israeli territory last Saturday and slaughtering civilians, including more than 250 attendees at a music festival.
The letter from the ICJP follows Israel’s warning to Palestinians to evacuate to the south of the Gaza Strip or risk being caught up in military action and calls for the UK to support an immediate ceasefire.
An injured girl is carried away from rubble after an Israeli airstrike hit Khan Yuris in southern Gaza
Gaza City (pictured) is at the centre of an Israeli evacuation order as they prepare to launch a ground offensive
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike on the seventh day of the clashes in Rafah, Gaza
Israeli artillery embedded within piles of sand fires towards fires towards the Gaza Strip today
Tory MP Crispin Blunt is co-director of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) which has issued the warning to UK government
The IDF yesterday warned 1.2 million people to flee in just 24 hours, including those critically ill in hospital who cannot be moved. The deadline expired in the early hours of Saturday, although the IDF today said citizens could evacuate via two main roads between 10am and 4pm local time.
The UN and World Health Organisation both condemned the Israeli order, warning of ‘calamitous’ results and a humanitarian crisis if it was not revoked.
So far in the conflict, more than 1,300 Israelis have been killed with around 150 people, north Israelis and foreign citizens, taken hostage and imprisoned in Gaza.
Palestinian authorities say of the 2,200 killed by Israeli strikes so far, 583 are confirmed to be children.
Mr Blunt told Sky that ‘everyone must act to restrain people’ if they know war crimes are likely to happen.
He continued: ‘If you know that a party is going to commit a war crime – and this forcible transfer of people is a precise breach of one of the statutes that governs international law and all states in this area – then you are making yourself complicit,’ he said.
‘And as international law has developed in this area, the fact of being complicit makes you equally guilty to the party carrying out the crime.’
The MP previously came under fire and was investigated by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after failing to declare payments totalling £20,000 on time, and his role as co-director of the ICJP in summer 2022.
Rescuers dig through rubble today in an effort to find survivors from Israeli airstrikes
Palestinians, who fled their houses amid Israeli strikes, shelter at a United Nations-run school in Gaza today
Flyers dropped by the IDF warning residents to flee are seen in the skies above Gaza yesterday
Palestinians crowd onto a truck as they head south today to escape Israel’s ground offensive
Smoke rises above buildings in the southern Gaza Strip following an Israeli strike yeserday
The morning sun glints over a tree to illuminate a scene of devastation in Gaza today
Smoke billows over Gaza City yesterday as Palestinians tried to flee a ground invasion by Israeli forces
In a statement, the ICJP said: ‘The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has issued Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with a stark warning that UK government officials could be individually liable for their role in aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes.
‘Sunak has been issued with the notice of intention to prosecute UK government officials, for their role in providing military, economic and political support to Israel, which has aided Israel’s perpetration of war crimes.
‘This remarkable development comes at a time when Scotland Yard’s War Crimes Unit have opened calls for evidence relating to war crimes in the region. In an incredible turn of events, this could lead to UK government officials being prosecuted for war crimes by Scotland Yard. Individuals could also be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.
‘The decision to prosecute comes in response to Israel’s directive to 1.2 million people in Gaza to immediately leave their homes in northern Gaza and move south.
‘This order will result in mass forced displacement which may amount to both a war crime and a crime against humanity. The siege of Gaza, restricting electricity, food, water and other basic necessities, constitutes collective punishment, which is also a war crime under the Geneva Convention.’
It also claimed: ‘The UK government has provided military assistance and economic and political support. Now that war crimes have been carried out, continuation of such support and assistance would mean that UK Government officials would be complicit in the commission of war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity.
‘This complicity, formally known as ‘aiding and abetting’ war crimes, may mean that UK government officials are individually criminally liable for breaking international law.’
The ICJP issued six demands to the UK government which it said would ‘prevent further legal action’. These are:
Issue a public statement condemning Israeli breaches of international law;
Ask each Government official that has encouraged war crimes in Gaza to rescind their statements in public;
Insist Israel complies unequivocally with international law;
Immediately act to safeguard civilians in Gaza;
Call for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further loss of life;
Call for an immediate end to the siege to allow the secure the access of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Palestinians flee from northern Gaza to the south yesterday after the Israeli army issued an unprecedented evacuation warning
Israeli tanks and military vehicles massing near the border with Gaza today
The UK has been among countries showing steadfast support to Israel since the Hamas attack last weekend.
Evidence of atrocities by the militant group including the killing of babies and entire villages, with many families being burnt to death in their own homes, has emerged in recent days.
Most recently Hamas has told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s evacuation order, accusing it of ‘psychological warfare’. It is feared the terror group will use hostages captured in Israel and its own civilians as human shields if Israel attack Gaza.
It is thought the attack was years in the making as propaganda videos show Hamas practising invasion tactics from training sites which have existed for several years.
But global leaders have urged restraint by Israel ahead of an expected imminent ground offensive in order to protect innocent civilians.
Following Israel’s evacuation order, the World Health Organisation said evacuating those with severe injuries would amount to a ‘death sentence’.
Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, said Gaza was ‘fast becoming a hellhole and is on the brink of collapse’.
Israeli Merkava battle tanks streaming into Gaza yesterday in preparation for the full scale ground invasion
Palestinians carry an injured boy rescued from the rubble after an airstrike in Gaza today
A Palestinian man uses a fire extinguisher to douse a fire following an Israeli strike today in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip
Huge queues of traffic formed as thousands tried to head south, amid reports Hamas had blocked roads.
Although the government has thrown its full support behind Israel, the Archbishop of Canterbury appealed for a humanitarian corridor in Gaza as civilians ‘cannot bear the costs of terrorists’.
Justin Welby condemned the Hamas attacks and said Israel’s anger was ‘entirely justified’, but highlighted that more than two million civilians in Gaza faced a ‘catastrophe’.
Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf added he believed the Government had placed a different value on Palestinian lives to those of Israelis.
Mr Yousaf, whose mother-in-law is trapped in Gaza, said he was ‘frustrated’ by ministers’ response and said they should put pressure on Israel to protect civilian lives.
Israel’s military response has seen Gaza’s only power plant forced to shut after it ran out of fuel, leaving the territory without electricity or running water.
Hospitals have been overwhelmed by casualties from the airstrikes, and can operate only using emergency generators that are also running out of fuel. Medicins San Frontieres said last night that staff at one of its hospitals had been given only two hours to evacuate, while they were still treating patients.
Israel acknowledged its 24-hour deadline for the vast evacuation could prove unrealistic but continued to mass its soldiers and tanks close to the border. It said it would continue its blockade on fuel, food, water or medicines entering Gaza until Hamas freed all hostages.
US President Joe Biden, who has repeatedly given staunch support for Israel, said that addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was a ‘priority’.
‘We can’t lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do with Hamas and Hamas’ appalling attacks, and they’re suffering as a result as well,’ Biden said during a speech in Philadelphia.
The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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