A Call for Justice and Accountability in Israel and Palestine

We are witnessing a significant and historic development in the pursuit of justice. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Galant, and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Rawhi Al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh for war crimes and crimes against humanity is a bold and necessary step. This move underscores the urgent need for accountability and the rule of law in one of the most protracted and painful conflicts of our time.

For too long, the UK Government has been content to sit on the fence, evading critical questions about its assessments of Israeli compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This indecision is no longer tenable. The UK Government must now clearly outline how this development will influence their evaluation of Israel’s actions and when they will reconsider the arms licenses granted to Israel.

The evidence presented by Prosecutor Khan is both damning and comprehensive. He stated, “On the basis of evidence collected and examined by my Office, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Galant bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine (in the Gaza Strip) from at least 8th October 2023.” This includes starvation as a method of warfare, the wilful killing of civilians, and the systematic deprivation of objects indispensable to human survival.

This evidence, which includes interviews with survivors, authenticated multimedia, and satellite imagery, paints a grim picture of intentional and systematic deprivation inflicted upon the civilian population of Gaza. The UK Government must now address the glaring question: Does it still believe that Israel has the intent and capacity to comply with IHL, given this overwhelming evidence?

Five months ago, the Foreign Secretary acknowledged that Israel should restore water supplies to Gaza. Yet, despite having sufficient information indicating Israel’s violations, the UK Government chose inaction. This failure to act is not just a lapse in judgment but a grave moral failing.

Furthermore, Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists and international aid workers and the closure of borders to human rights monitoring organizations severely limits the ability to gather evidence on the ground. How, then, is the UK Government making its assessments of Israel’s compliance with IHL? The lack of transparency and accountability is deeply troubling.

On 3rd April, despite the mounting evidence of atrocities, the Foreign Secretary recommended that arms licenses to Israel remain granted. Over 34,000 innocent civilians have been killed by the IDF, yet the UK Government continues to turn a blind eye. Will we witness another cowardly display of indifference, or will the UK Government finally cease granting arms licenses to a nation whose leaders are now under arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity?

The time for equivocation is over. It is already too late for so many innocent people who have lost their lives and loved ones or endured unimaginable horror. The UK Government must, at last, take a definitive stance and respond to these grave allegations with the seriousness they deserve. Our commitment to justice, human rights, and the rule of law demands nothing less.