Source: Coventry Justice & Peace Group
Earlier today, representatives from the World Health Organisation described their visit to Dar al-Shifa, the Gaza Strip's largest hospital, as entering a "death zone", with a mass grave at the entrance and only 25 staff left to care for 291 seriously ill patients after orders from the Israeli army to evacuate the complex. This is the latest in a seemingly unending stream of catastrophic news for the inhabitants of that part of Palestine (not to mention the increasing number of accounts of violence against the inhabitants of the West Bank).
Members of Coventry Justice and Peace Group are appalled at the recent defeat of the Gaza Ceasefire Vote in the House of Commons and join with Pope Francis who has now called twice for a cessation of violence in the Holy Land.
We are distressed by the way in which our government, having rightly condemned the attack on Israelis and the subsequent taking of hostages, seems prepared to tolerate the denial of food, water, and medical aid and the relentless, daily killing and suffering of defenceless Palestinian civilians. In the totally disproportionate response, we have witnessed the Geneva Conventions being thrown aside. Yet, it is these that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. They are intended to protect civilians, medical and aid workers and those who are unable to fight such as wounded combatants and prisoners of war. We recall that the Second Vatican Council declared in Gaudium et Spes (1965) that acts of war that aimed to lay waste to cities and their populations were to be utterly condemned as a crime against humanity (#80)
The 'rules-based order' has often been invoked recently, usually as an allegation of its flouting, rather than as a sincere desire to see it enacted and respected. We call for an immediate return to these principles for guiding current and future actions and for the construction of a just and peaceful world, under institutions that can hold all states to account for their actions.
At this time, we ask the UK Government, and all Members of Parliament, to return to these principles and to support
· an immediate Humanitarian Ceasefire;
· the immediate provision of all the humanitarian aid needed and the fuel to enable it to be distributed throughout the Gaza Strip;
· the unconditional release of all hostages.
We also call upon like-minded individuals and groups, who also may be feeling overcome by the widespread sense of powerlessness, to contact their elected representatives as follows:
· If your MP voted for a Ceasefire, thank them as it took courage to do that against the instructions of some political parties; ask them if they will support an end to the siege on Gaza and the occupation of Palestine;
· If your MP voted for a Humanitarian Pause, ask them what they imagine would follow that pause and if they are supporting the resumption of the killing when the pause comes to an end;
· If your MP abstained, ask them why they did not feel able to support an end to the senseless killing of thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians.
Find your MP and contact them at: www.writetothem.com/?a=westminstermp
How did your MP vote on the Gaza ceasefire motion? see: The Guardian