My Latest Letter to Constituents on the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

The scale of death and destruction in Gaza over recent months has been intolerable. I share grave concerns about the protection of hospitals, and I continue to call on Israel to ensure that it protects hospitals and civilians. Sadly, such calls from amongst others, the United Nations, go unheeded by the Israeli government and the international community needs to do much more to put a stop to the killing on both sides of the conflict.

There have been very serious reports coming from Gaza, including from the World Health Organisation, about the severe conditions for hospitals, staff, patients and civilians. I pay tribute to the dedication and courage of the medical staff in Gaza who have been working in intolerable conditions – and my sympathies go to the families of those, including in the UK, who have been killed trying to deliver humanitarian support.

The humanitarian agonies in Palestine are now extreme. People are starving and drinking dirty water, and there are reports of amputations being carried out without anaesthetic. More aid must get to Palestinians now, and there should be a steady stream coming from the UK. Yet, aid flows remain inadequate.

The number of food trucks entering Gaza has been below pre-war levels for months. The impact is clear, the IPC note that prior to the recent hostilities 0.8% of children under 5 were acutely malnourished, as of February, it was between 12.4 and 16.5% in the north. This famine is man-made, and a terrible consequence of this war. According to the International Court of Justice ruling, Israel is obligated to ensure the provision of aid. Israel must comply with the orders in the ruling in full.

On arms exports, the law is clear that the Government cannot grant a licence if there is a clear risk that items could be used in violation of international humanitarian law. Yet as you know, there have been numerous allegations of serious breaches of humanitarian law by Israeli forces in the conduct of this campaign which the International Criminal Court is investigating along with other claims. It is for this reason that I have supported calls for the Government to publish the legal advice it has received on whether Israel is in compliance with the human rights criteria enabling the export of British military technologies.

I want to see an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, observed by all sides of the conflict. All violence against civilians must stop and all hostages must be released. The bloodshed and the suffering must end.

A ceasefire is a step on the road to a lasting peace. It will require hard negotiation and a road map for a political process. I want to see a sustained effort for such a diplomatic process, working with international partners to salvage the hope of a two-state solution. There is no way out of the crisis without a safe and secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state, and the hope that both Palestinians and Israelis have a path to security, justice and opportunity in lands they can call their own.

The reality is that neither the long-term security of Israel nor long-term justice for Palestine can be delivered by bombs and bullets. A political agreement is the only way to resolve this conflict, once and for all, as so often the trauma of the present leads directly to the tragedy of the future where this terrible conflict risks being replicated.