PRESS RELEASE FROMBRITAIN-PALESTINE APPG, 19 October 2015
For immediate release
THE ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN ISRAEL-PALESTINE IS ROOTED IN FAILURE TO END THE OCCUPATION
All murders and other attacks on civilians are unacceptable, whoever commits them and whoever are the victims. As of 19 October, the recent alarming escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine has claimed the lives of 9 Israelis who have died in knife and other attacks by Palestinians. Over 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settler attacks. Estimates suggest around half the Palestinians killed were attackers; the rest having been killed during demonstrations, in clashes with Israeli troops and in air strikes on Gaza.
The escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is tragic, alarming but sadly all too predictable.
For months, politicians familiar with the issue, human rights groups, aid agencies and United Nations agencies have warned that the situation was completely unsustainable and that more violent clashes would erupt.
Whilst the proximate causes may have largely concerned the future of the Holy Places in Jerusalem, the long-term causes need to be addressed for any chance of calming the situation.
Over two thousand people died in Israel’s military assault on Gaza last year. Since 2013, however, the UN and various human rights groups such as Amnesty International (1), have also been highlighting the increasing use of live ammunition by the Israeli army in the West Bank. Their fears have been echoed by Israeli human rights organisations such as B’Tselem and the army veterans’ organisation, Breaking the Silence.
In 2013, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 25 Palestinians were killed by live ammunition from Israeli forces in the West Bank. This was 1.5 times the number of those killed in 2011 and 2012 combined. The recent escalation has demonstrated this very troubling trend. This is why we support the U.N. Secretary-General’s call for Israel to review its use of force.
Israel has a duty and obligation to protect its citizens, but in accordance with international law and with a view to de-escalating the tensions. Both sides should refrain from any incitement of provocations.
This week, UK MPs will hear directly from former Israeli soldiers from “Breaking the Silence” in a special briefing hosted by the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group. With considerable bravery, Breaking the Silence place on record a very different perspective on Israeli military actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These testimonies not only show why Palestinian frustration and anger have reached their limit, but that there are Israelis who understand this too.
Palestinians want to see an end to the Israeli military occupation, an occupation that has intensified with ever-expanding illegal settlements that take Palestinian land and resources like water. The Israeli Defence minister has confirmed that settlement building “was not frozen for even a minute.”(2) Israeli ministers make clear that they do not support the creation of a Palestinian state to which Israel has told the international community it is committed. On the ground, the impact of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies – including settlement building and removal of Palestinians from their homes – is increasingly making the two state solution impossible.
Faced with this, the international community must be far more proactive in promoting a political settlement to secure peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.
This has to include:
1) An end to the occupation. As the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem has made clear, the Israeli government “bears responsibility for the reality of the occupation.” No people should have to endure such a blanket denial of freedom for nearly five decades.
2) All sides must adhere to international law with full accountability for those who violate it. This is a principle that should be applied for any conflict zone. In the case of Israel/Palestine this must include an end to all attacks on civilians; collective punishment including the blockade of Gaza, demolition of the homes of families of alleged attackers; no forced transfer and a complete cessation of all settlement activity.
Britain-Palestine Group Chair, Richard Burden MP, said today:
“Former Israeli soldiers are showing real bravery by breaking the silence about what is really going on in Israel and Palestine. Here in the UK, our responsibility is to press both our own government and the EU to use the diplomatic and economic power we have to help bring about change to secure peace and justice in that part of the world.
For further information and comment, please contact Josh Newton via email firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7219 2318.