Friends respond to Gaza

Friends have released a statement on the ongoing conflict in Gaza

A statement on the ongoing conflict in Gaza has been released by Friends House calling on ‘the Israeli military to end their violent use of live gunfire on unarmed protesters, in clear violation of international law’.

The killing of Palestinian protesters, the statement says, with hundreds injured, by the Israeli military comes as Palestinians in Gaza embark on six weeks of nonviolent protest known as the ‘Great March of Return’.

It continues: ‘The March aims to draw attention to the forced expulsion and fleeing of Palestinians from their land when the state of Israel was created in 1948. We write remembering the millions of Palestinian and Israeli lives lost and damaged during a conflict, which, this May, will enter its seventieth year.

‘We wish to stand with all nonviolent protesters seeking a peaceful and just end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. As we are not able to be with them there, our presence has to be one of speaking out here.’

The statement says the March follows ‘a long and proud tradition of nonviolent resistance’ and cites Mohandas Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930 and Martin Luther King junior’s 1963 March on Washington.

The statement says: ‘We call on the Israeli military to end their violent use of live gunfire on unarmed protesters, in clear violation of international law. We mourn the ongoing fifty-year military occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government that has led to such despair and tension.

‘We consider that the Israeli government can engage constructively with the issues that have led to this civil disobedience: the blockade of Gaza and the military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. We call on them to do so immediately.’

The statement praises the work of B’Tselem: ‘We are moved by the “Sorry Commander, I cannot shoot” campaign by B’Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights organisation. This campaign emphasises that if soldiers receive orders to shoot live gunfire into crowds of unarmed civilians, they are duty-bound under international law to refuse…

‘In contrast, we are astounded by our own government’s failure to condemn the killings, or to uphold nonviolent efforts and systems of accountability within international law to end the conflict. We urge the British government to support the UN secretary general’s call for an independent investigation into the killings.’

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.