The UK is doing Israelis like me no favours
Instead of demanding the implementation of international law, many Western governments are fuelling the flames
Last Friday, with over a thousand other Jewish Israelis, I sent letters to diplomats in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, pleading with them to intervene – to demand Israel stop bombing Gaza; to prevent the Israeli ground invasion; and to support the call of thousands of Israelis for an immediate prisoner/hostage exchange. We received no response.
At the time that our group, Israelis against Apartheid, was calling to stop the slaughter, hundreds of Israelis, including the families of those taken prisoner by Hamas, began demonstrating in Israeli cities. They were demanding immediate efforts be made to release the hostages in a prisoner swap for Palestinian political prisoners, including women and children, held in Israeli jails.
In our letters, we wrote: “We fear that in the coming hours Gaza’s hospitals will turn into graveyards. With fuel reserves for electricity generators all used up, there will be no more power for operation rooms, vital monitors, ventilators, ICU drips, newborn incubators, or even lights. Communication networks are failing and people can no longer call for ambulances. Medical care can never be a subject for negotiation.
We could not have imagined that reality would surpass our fears
“Please help us stop this catastrophe, which is costing the lives of thousands and destroying the vision of a just and safe future for the region.”
In our worst nightmares, we could not have imagined that reality would surpass our fears. Doctors in Gaza are now operating without painkillers, and the only cancer hospital has been bombed, reportedly killing more than 500 people.
Our voices calling for an immediate ceasefire and prisoner exchange were drowned out by a tsunami of incitement.
For example, Knesset member Ariel Kallner tweeted: “Nakba for the enemy now! This day is our Pearl Harbor. We will learn the lessons later. Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of ’48. Nakba in Gaza and Nakba to anyone who dares to join because like then in 1948, the alternative is clear.”
This kind of sentiment is not new but it is now amplified and emboldened.
There is a risk of genocide against the Palestinian people
On Thursday, the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said: “There is a risk of genocide against the Palestinian people”. Instead of the international community demanding the implementation of international law, many Western governments are fueling the flames.
On Wednesday, the UK Government refused to endorse cross-party calls for a ceasefire and, only one day earlier, had rejected – along with France, the US and Japan – the UN resolution for a Gaza ceasefire. The US continues to veto UN resolutions for “humanitarian pauses”.
On 11 October, the leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer declared his backing for what he described as Israel’s “right” to totally cut power and water supplies to Palestinians in Gaza, an act of collective punishment which constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law.
In the past 12 days, Israel has dropped more than 6,000 bombs and laid waste to many Gaza communities. NGO Defence for Children Palestine has reported that one Palestinian child is killed every 15 minutes in Gaza. Hundreds of fatalities remain trapped under the rubble. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are sheltering in schools and hospitals, without mainline electricity, and with dwindling stocks of food and water.
Whole communities are being wiped off the map in the West Bank
While all eyes are on what’s happening in Gaza, whole communities are being wiped off the map in the West Bank, which is now under military siege. The UN has documented at least 56 killings of Palestinians in the West Bank by Israeli forces in the past 12 days, as well as 82 settler attacks. A total of eight entire communities have been forcibly evicted by settler violence since the beginning of the attack on Gaza.
The West Bank and Gaza demonstrate the lack of options that are open to Palestinians. If they co-ordinate with Israel for its security, such as the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, illegal settlements will continue to expand, putting people at risk of being killed by settlers and soldiers.
Starmer, Sunak and other politicians in Britain and around the world are doing us – Israelis – no favours by encouraging Netanyahu’s government to commit war crimes against Palestinians. And, by doing so, they are complicit in the crimes themselves.
This article, by Neta Golan, was first published in The i.
Neta Golan is an Israeli activist with Israelis against Apartheid and a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. She currently lives in Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank