Society of Black Lawyers U.K (SBL) Stands Against Violence and Demands Immediate Ceasefire in Palestine-Israel Conflict, Calls for 5 point plan to end Violence
In the face of the escalating crisis in Gaza, the Society of Black Lawyers U.K (SBL) expresses deep sorrow for all innocent victims of violence, regardless of their ethnicity or nationality. The term “war” is not the appropriate term and fails to encapsulate the gravity of the situation unfolding in the region. Palestine has endured unjust and unlawful occupation since 1948, with Israeli forces acting with impunity.
Recent years have witnessed the abandonment of negotiations for a two-state solution, leading to the containment and blockading of 2.3 million Palestinians within Gaza – a situation described by Israel’s own ministers as the world’s largest prison camp.
The killings at the Al Aqsa Mosque, the murder of The Al Jazeera journalist, Ms Shireen Abyu Akleh, by the Israeli army, with impunity, & the expansion of unlawful Jewish settlements has led directly to this latest round of violence. The cynical proposal by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to “normalise” relations with the Apartheid State of Israel has been a contributory factor to this conflict.
The international community is deeply alarmed by the deteriorating situation in Gaza, where a dire humanitarian crisis continues to unfold. The Gaza Strip has witnessed a dramatic escalation of violence, resulting in the loss of innocent lives, extensive damage to infrastructure, and a severe shortage of essential supplies. The Israeli forces destroyed at least 70 industrial facilities and 970 residential units in the Gaza Strip. The impact on the civilian population demands urgent attention and concerted efforts from the global community.
Hon. Judge (Rtd) Peter Herbert OBE, Chair SBL states:
“Israel is committing widespread crimes against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip amidst four consecutive days of its escalating crimes against humanity, Israel has cut off Gaza’s electricity, water, food, and fuel supplies, creating an immediate humanitarian catastrophe. The call to expel millions of Gaza residents whilst 338,000 have already been made homeless is the actions of a fascist state, not a democracy. The USA, U.K., European Union, and Egypt will be complicit in crimes against humanity if they do not exercise restraint on Israel. Their inaction will invite a reginal war involving Lebanon and Hezbollah.”
The Israeli attack has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,900 Palestinians, with approximately 59% of them being civilians, including 614 children and many women. Around 6,000 others have been injured, with hundreds remaining trapped under rubble and along border areas. Israel’s army is expanding its military operations in Gaza, targeting residential buildings without prior warning and causing the deaths of entire families. There are 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza with 7,000 due to give birth this month according to UN agencies on the ground. This is another disastrous ethnic cleansing, another “Catastrophe”, making this an Egyptian problem.
The people of Gaza, including a significant number of children, are facing unimaginable hardships as they grapple with limited access to food, clean water, and medical care. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and essential medical supplies are running critically low, exacerbating an already precarious situation. The Israeli order to evacuate Gaza civilians is completely destructive of life in Gaza and a repeat of 1948. There are no facilities for Gaza to absorb One million refugees.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur, has made it clear that,
“Hamas committing war crimes on Israel does not give the State of Israel the right to commit war crimes in return on the people of Gaza”
Kofi Anan, said over twenty years ago that the solutions are clear to all the parties, as reiterated in our 5 point plan. Five previous violent incursions by Israel have failed to achieve a peaceful solution.
SBL urges immediate action to de-escalate the conflict. We call on Hamas to release all hostages and demand Israel to permit the essential supplies of water, food, and electricity to reach the people of Gaza, especially hospitals that are running critically low on necessary provisions.
Senior SBL member, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP for Streatham commented,
“I am appalled by the situation unfolding in Israel, Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian territories. I utterly condemn Hamas’s murder and kidnap of Israeli civilians. There can be no justification for the killing of innocent civilians. Innocent people in Gaza should not be made to pay for Hamas’s crimes. The decision to cut off energy, water and food to the entire civilian population, and today’s order for 1.1 million people to leave their homes represent collective punishment.
Given Britain’s distinct role in creating this cycle of killing and bloodshed in the Middle East, our country has a special responsibility to push for peace in the region, not to fuel war.
Our immediate priorities must be establishing a ceasefire, securing the release of Israeli hostages and allowing humanitarian access to food, water, energy and medicines for Gaza. Our long-term priorities must be ensuring that the fundamental rights of Israelis and Palestinians are upheld. A just and lasting peace can only be achieved by upholding international law.”
Yetunde Asika, Vice President National Board SBL states:
“”Protecting oneself” cannot justify invading Gaza and causing the deaths of innocent Palestinians on such a massive scale. As the occupying power, Israel has a clear obligation under international law not to commit war crimes, to ensure that their citizens are protected and to ensure that the basic needs of the Gaza civilian population are met.”
The Israeli authorities must immediately restore Gaza’s electricity supply and suspend the increased restrictions imposed as a result of the Minister of Defence’s order of 9 October 2023 and lift its illegal 17-year old blockade on the Gaza Strip. The collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population amounts to a war crime. The SBL urges all parties to adopt a five point plan to end this cycle of violence.
- The State of Israel and its armed forces and Hamas, must refrain from committing any unlawful attacks that kill or injure civilians and destroy civilian homes and infrastructure. The planned ground invasion must not take place under any circumstances.
- All parties to the conflict must observe an immediate ceasefire that is overseen by a United Nations peace keeping force and observers.
- Israeli officials and settlers must refrain from incitement to violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and ensure the safety of all civilians living under its control, with a freeze on further building of unlawful settlements until a diplomatic solution is found.
- Hamas, and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza must identify, confirm proof of life of all hostages it holds within 24 hours, and release all civilian hostages unconditionally and immediately hand them to the custody of the United Nations representatives in Gaza.
- The State of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and all regional States must re-open negotiations that lead to the establishment of a viable Palestinian State within two years built on sustainable economically sustainable borders, that include recognition of the State of Israel to exist (The Two State Solution).
There can be no lasting peace and security in the region without an immediate ceasefire and a viable two-state solution being agreed. The status quo of containing Gaza as prison camp and increasing unlawful Jewish settlements in an apartheid divided West Bank cannot continue to destroy the basis for peace.
SBL stands in solidarity with the victims, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected. We particularly advocate for the protection of the 50% of Gazans who are children, who are especially vulnerable in this crisis.
For media inquiries, please contact:
D Peter Herbert O.B.E.
Chair Society of Black Lawyers U.K
+44 7973 794946 (Whats App number)
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