I've been contacted by many constituents who have been horrified, like me, by what we have seen happening in Gaza. I've signed a joint letter, along with a number of other Scottish Labour MPs, to the UK Foreign Secretary, calling for action, as follows:
Dear The Rt Hon David Milliband,
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our disgust, condemnation and concern at the current attacks being carried out by Israel on the Gaza strip killing over 200 people – including women and children. There is little doubt that the number of civilian deaths will rise in the next few days and weeks as Israel shows no signs of stopping its offensive on the people of Gaza.
The situation is bleak with hospitals running out of medical supplies as the Israeli blockade continues to suffocate the people of Gaza. The region’s power and infrastructure networks are on the verge of collapse with over 85% of Gazans depending on UN food aid – which is at critically low levels.
We, the undersigned, call on you to do all you can in your power to pressure the Israeli Government to halt attacks on the Gazan people who are being collectively punished for the actions of a minority. While we believe that Israel has the right to defend itself and its civilians from rocket attacks it cannot be allowed to collectively punish, maim and kill innocent Palestinian civilians in the process.
In the past 24-hours we have heard from the Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, that the attacks will not be short and will become increasingly intense. We believe that a strong statement of condemnation, of Israel’s actions, must be forthcoming from world leaders and political institutions before the attacks escalate and further air attacks are intensified and ground troops sent to the region.
Please, we urge you to do all you can to halt the killing of innocent lives and send a strong message of condemnation to the Israeli’s for their current attacks.
I also put out my own statement soon after the Israeli attacks began:
“While the rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are wrong, and should stop immediately, they do not justify these massive and indiscriminate reprisals by the Israeli forces. The Israeli attacks are bound to lead to heavy civilian
casualties, and if they are continued as the Israeli government threatens
the toll of dead and wounded innocent civilians could well be in the
hundreds and even thousands. These attacks, which appear to have been
motivated at last partly by the electoral weakness of the current Israeli
government as it faces elections, are indefensible and are a crime under
international law. They must stop, and the international community needs
to make loud and clear its condemnation of these attacks.”
The current events give added impetus to an event in Edinburgh organised by the Scottish Palestinian Forum, on 31 January, at which I am one of the speakers. - details below:
Working for a Just Peace for Palestine and Israel
- how to become more effective advocates
One day conference 31st January 2009
0930 hours – 1600 hours
St George’s West Church, Shandwick Place, Edinburgh.
Keynote Speaker The Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan
Advocacy and Parliamentarians Mark Lazarowicz MP : David Martin MEP : Robin Harper MSP
Advocacy with the Jewish and Muslim Communities
Barrie Levine Scottish Jews for a Just Peace
Humza Yousaf Scottish Islamic Foundation
Advocacy and the Media Lesley Riddoch, Journalist
Experience of Advocacy William Bell, Christian Aid
Cost : £10 per person (includes a light lunch)
Register with and send payment to: Alison Phillips, Muiredge, Rannoch, Pitlochry, PH17 2QW
Cheques payable to Scottish Palestinian Forum
e:mail : firstname.lastname@example.org