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An e-newsletter from the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine.
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Palestine Post #4

 

Dear Member,

Welcome to LDFP's second e-newsletter for July.

In this edition of Palestine Post...

i) LDFP News
ii) Palestine in Parliament
iii) Eye on Palestine
iv) Campaigns + Reports
v) Top 5 reads

Regards,

Team LDFP
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LDFP news:

For the past two weeks LDFP has been committed to keeping parliamentarians abreast of developments in Gaza and encouraging them to pressure the government into attempting to curb Operation Protective Edge. We have issued three separate briefings to Lib Dem MPs, Peers and PPCs. In case you didn't see them the first time, they are here, here and here

LDFP Chairman John McHugo recently drafted a motion for conference relating to the situation in the Middle East. This was circulated throughout the party and we are delighted to say that it was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. Numerous conference delegates including several parliamentarians have offered to sign the motion. We hope that this will generate sufficient momentum to see it formally approved. The text of John McHugo's letter to LDFP members and parliamentarians can be found here, along with a link to the full text of the motion. 

Palestine in Parliament:

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, spoke out on 16 July about the ongoing Israeli military operation in Gaza. According to the media outlet Russia Today, "Clegg said that Israel had gone too far in its attacks after four Palestinian children were killed on a beach by Israeli shells. He also accused Israel of imposing a “disproportionate form of collective punishment” on to Gaza citizens, which would lead to “truly unimaginable” and “unacceptable” humanitarian crisis." Clegg's comments alluded to the concept of 'collective punishment' as set out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Unfortunately, Clegg's comments were not widely circulated in the British media. LDFP encourages members to congratulate Clegg on his decision to speak out against violations of international law. 

On 14 July MPs gathered in the House of Commons to voice their opinions on the Israeli assault on Gaza. The highlights of the debate can be seen here. LDFP was delighted to see Martin Horwood MP and Sir Bob Russell MP speaking out on this issue. David Ward MP and Sir Menzies Campbell MP were also in attendance. Martin Horwood asked the Foreign Secretary whether or not the "favourable economic  and political relationship" between Israel and the EU and Israel and the UK should be "reconsidered" following "the Israeli government's disproportionate response to these attacks." Sir Bob Russell MP asked the Foreign Secretary to confirm whether or not "the actions of the Israeli political and military leaders constitute war crimes."

In the House of Lords on 14 July, Baroness Jenny Tonge has maintained a relentless assault on HMG concerning their approach to Israel/Palestine in general and Gaza in particular. See here for a link to all of her recent written and spoken questions in the HOL. 

Eye on Palestine:

This weekend (19/20 July) has witness the bloodiest days since Operation Protective Edge began on 8 July, with at least 60 Palestinians killed over Saturday night and Sunday, including 17 children. As of 22 July the total number of Palestinians killed in Gaza has reached more than 550.  27 Israeli soldiers have been killed and two Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian rocket fire. 

Most of the deaths over the weekend occurred in Shuja’iyeh, an eastern neighbourhood of Gaza City. Israel has said it warned residents to evacuate the area – thousands have sought shelter in UN buildings which are rapidly running of space and resources.  Women, children and babies make up the numbers of dead and injured; this eyewitness report describes the ‘lakes of blood’ covering the hospital floors. 

On 22 July the IDF confirmed that one soldier was missing, presumed dead following a Palestinian attack on an Israeli Armoured Personnel Carrier on Sunday. Hamas claimed that it had captured and Israeli soldier, demonstrating photo ID. However, Hamas did not say whether the captive was dead or alive. 

Israel continues to defend its actions and the killing of civilians by claiming Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas. Four young boys killed on a Gaza beach with no rocket launchers in sight cast serious doubt on that assertion – watch Jon Snow press an Israeli government spokesperson on the issue here. 

Apparently living under the constant threat of Hamas rockets doesn’t stop Israelis gathering on hilltops to watch and cheer on the bombing of Gaza, as reported here.

Alarmingly, it has been reported that the Israeli army is using deadly flechette shells in its bombardment of Gaza. The shells explode in the air releasing thousands of tiny darts into the surrounding area. Although the weapons are not illegal under international law, the imprecise and wide reach of the darts doubtlessly increases the risk of civilian casualties and casts further doubts on Israeli claims that they are launching 'targeted operations' against Hamas facilities. This claim was ironically mocked off-air by US Secretary of State John Kerry who described it as "one hell of a pinpoint operation."

Among the buildings Israel destroyed last week was the El-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, home to patients with severe disabilities. An IDF spokesperson said that rockets were being launched within 100 metres of the hospital, and although the Israeli authorities did not believe weapons were being kept at the hospital itself, the premises were targeted and destroyed. Read more here. On 21 July, another dozen shells struck the al-Aqsa hospital in Gaza, hitting the surgery department and the intensive care unit. Four were killed and sixty injured. 

This report gives the figures and background up to Saturday 19th July, although the number of deaths has increased since then. Keep checking this link for updates on the facts.

Last week an Egyptian brokered ceasefire was rejected by Hamas but accepted by Israel. Hamas claimed it was unwilling to accept any truce that would simply result in a return to the status quo ante bellum. In response, they issued their own list of ten conditions that they would expect in return for a ceasefire. This list included a lifting of the siege of Gaza, the opening of an air and sea port in Gaza and pledge that Israel would not interfere in Palestinian politics. See the full list here. 

Campaigns and Reports:

National Demonstration for Gaza, 19 July 2014 - ‘Enough is enough' - Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in London, marching from Whitehall to the Israeli Embassy calling for an end to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Estimates on numbers present ranged from 15,000 to 100,000. 

Protest outside the BBCBBC, shame on you - 5,000 protesters gathered outside the BBC’s London studios last week demanding fairer coverage of the conflict. Protesters were angry at the lack of context provided in BBC reports of the current escalation in violence. A letter signed by 45,000 people including Noam Chomsky and John Pilger was handed to the BBC’s Director General Lord Hall. Read more about the BBC controversy in this Ceasefire editorial, Dear BBC, Palestinian children, too, have names.”

BDS Petition - Please sign this petition to call on banks and investors to stop investing in financing Israel’s illegal settlements and occupation of Palestine. And a list of brands you can divest from to help hold Israel to account for its violations of international law. 

Oxfam has issued a blog post detailing the impact of the ISraeli assault on the fishermen of Gaza. According to the report, "at least 32 fishing boats and 1,000 nets have been destroyed in the past week, affecting the livelihoods of around 3,600 fishermen."
Top 5 reads:

1 - What Does Hamas Really Want? - (Gideon Levy, Haaretz)

2 - We Single Out Israel Because We in the West Are Shamefully Complicit in its Crimes - (Mehdi Hasan, New Statesman)

3 - Israel's Media Strategy - What Lies Beneath (Marwan Bishara, Al-Jazeera) 

4 - Israel was Wrong to Think it Could Destroy Hamas - (Azzam Tamimi, Middle East Eye)

5 - Besieged and Blockaded - What Gaza is Fighting Back Against - (Juan Cole, Informed Comment)
LDFP exists to fight for the rights of the Palestinian people through the medium of the Liberal Democrat Party. For a full articulation of our position, see here
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