End this culture of Israeli impunity
In the face of Palestinian deaths in Gaza, the UK government must be held to its commitments under international law
It is difficult to imagine how anyone watching Clancy Chassay's three short films on Israel's devastating attack on Gaza ("Operation Cast Lead") could deny that Israel has a clear case to answer on commission of war crimes.
The films tell the individual stories of those who are otherwise lost in the horrifying statistics. We learn of three teenage brothers used as human shields by the Israeli army, a Palestinian family killed by "precision weaponry" when drinking tea in a courtyard and a medic blown into pieces by the thousands of tiny metal darts, called flechettes, packed into each Israeli tank shell.
Recent estimates put the number of Palestinians killed in the bloody onslaught at more than 1,400 – including 430 children – and the number injured at more than 5,000. Israel's actions have been roundly condemned and demands from senior UN officials and human rights groups for Israel to be investigated for international war crimes over the "massive violation of human rights" are growing by the day.
At Public Interest Lawyers, we are acting on behalf of Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian human rights NGO based in Ramallah, which is bringing a public law claim against the UK government for its breaches of international law and calling on it to fulfil its international legal obligations. We will argue in court that as a result of Israel's unlawful action the UK has certain responsibilities: to denounce Israel's actions; not recognise the situation created by Israel as lawful; not render aid or assistance or be otherwise complicit in Israel's action in Gaza; co-operate with other states to bring Israel's breaches to an end and take all possible steps to ensure Israel respects its obligations under the Geneva conventions. Everything one might reasonably expect our government to do, but none of which it has done thus far.
If we are to uphold the rule of law across the world and if we are to challenge the culture of impunity that exists on the international stage, we must ensure that all states, including our own, take their responsibilities and obligations under international law seriously. It is time for our government to consider what its purported commitment to international law really means and, in the face of the Palestinian men, women and children who have lost their lives, it is time for our courts to be brave enough to hold the government to that commitment.
GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY
WAR CRIMES IN GAZA