In response to comments by Rishi Sunak and Lisa Nandy today, Amnesty International UK Chief Executive Sacha Deshmukh said:
“It is right that the Prime Minister and other leading UK politicians are calling for restoring water and humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.
“But the fact that neither the government nor the main opposition party are willing to condemn Israel’s clear breaches of international law is wrong and fails to hold Israel to account in a consistent way.
“The brutal attacks against Israeli civilians by Palestinian armed groups were war crimes. But Israel is responding to war crimes with more war crimes, which can never be justified, rationalised, or ignored. UK politicians must explicitly oppose all war crimes, whether by Palestinian armed groups or the Israeli authorities.
“Time is running out for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, with multiple UN agencies describing the situation as ‘catastrophic’ yesterday. By refusing to condemn clear breaches of international law, by not saying clearly that Israel’s restriction of water and food is collective punishment and a war crime, and that Israel’s evacuation order amounts to forcible displacement, UK politicians are diminishing the gravity of Israel’s actions, limiting pressure on Israel to change course, and contributing to an environment where human rights violations against Palestinians are diminished.
“Palestinian armed groups must stop indiscriminate rocket fire and release hostages, and Israel must lift the blockade of Gaza, rescind its evacuation order and refrain from unlawful and indiscriminate attacks. All are clear violations of international humanitarian law; they must be condemned, and there must be increased calls for justice and accountability, including via the International Criminal Court, to help address the root causes of this decades-long crisis.”