By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2899

Tory MP admits government has legal advice showing Israel is breaking law

There's growing pressure on Tories to release all legal advice on Gaza war
Issue 2899
Binyamin Netanyahu and Rishi Sunak

Binyamin Netanyahu and Rishi Sunak deal in death (Picture: Flickr/ Number 10)

The government is covering up its own legal advice because lawyers say Israel is breaking international law in Gaza, it was revealed last weekend. Alicia Kearns MP, chair of parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee, told a Tory fundraiser last month that the advice would mean Britain had to cease all arms sales to Israel without delay.

A recording of her speech was leaked to the press. In it she said the “Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law, but the government has not announced it.  

“They have not said it. They haven’t stopped arms exports. They have done a few very small sanctions on Israeli settlers, and everyone internationally has agreed that settlers are illegal, that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.”

The leak came as extremely unwelcome news for Rishi Sunak and his foreign secretary David Cameron, adding to pressure on them to reveal all the Gaza legal advice.

And Kearns has since doubled down on her statement. She told the Financial Times newspaper on Monday that “transparency at this point is paramount, not least to uphold the international rules-based order”.

The British state has since 2015 funnelled at least £489 million worth of arms into Israel.  Back in January Cameron denied ever hearing about whether government lawyers were looking into whether Israel’s conduct in Gaza is legal. He told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, “I cannot recall every single bit of paper that has been put in front of me… I don’t want to answer that question.”

For the government to break its protocols and supply arms to a country it knows to have broken international law is a high-risk strategy. Former Labour leader Tony Blair was plagued by accusations that Britain had gone to war in Iraq illegally, and ultimately he stepped down as prime minister. Similar accusations will now dog the Tories—and can do equal damage.

Palestine supporters should use this exposure of government hypocrisy to ramp up the pressure on Sunak and Cameron.

Gaza doc says West is maggot on the dead

Israeli forces have withdrawn from the area around al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City after two weeks of murderous attacks. Video footage of the aftermath shows the hospital buildings as rubble. Soldiers destroyed all its facilities, and its medical equipment. And homes in the surrounding areas have been obliterated. At least 21 al-Shifa patients died during the assault, with over a hundred more unaccounted for.

Norwegian physician Dr Mads Gilbert, who has worked in many Gaza hospitals, including al-Shifa, says siege has decimated the hospital. He said that people are now searching for bodies and are finding “decomposed corpses with maggots coming out of the eyes.”

“The maggots that are creeping out of the corpses in al-Shifa Hospital now are really maggots coming out of the eyes of President Biden and the European Union leaders doing nothing to stop this horrible, horrible genocide,” he said.

Rely on Britain to make matters worse

The British Royal Air Force began airdrops of aid into Gaza last week—and immediately made the terrible suffering even worse. At least 12 Palestinians drowned off the coast of Gaza, near Beit Lahia, while trying to reach airdropped parcels that had landed in the sea.

According to local paramedics another six people died in a crush as desperate people tried to reach the food and supplies. While hundreds of thousands of people starve the tiny airdrops are little more than a contemptuous taunt.

♦The International Court of Justice last week ordered Israel to allow food and aid to flow into Gaza unhindered.  After news of the decision, the Israeli government insisted it had not been stopping aid. It called the accusations “unfounded” and said Hamas was stealing the aid.

♦Palestinian resistance fighters this week continue to defy Israel terror in the Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City. The al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, said on Sunday of last week that it continued to target Israeli tanks and had shot a Zionist soldier near al-Shifa hospital. The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, added that it had “bombarded enemy soldiers and vehicles stationed around al-Shifa, west of Gaza City, with mortar shells.”

The Israeli state announced on Monday that the resistance has killed 600 Israeli soldiers since 7 October.

Israel gripped by protests

Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets last week to call for the removal of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. There were large protests in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be’er Sheva, and Caesarea and Jerusalem last Saturday, as well as big protests outside the Israel parliament, the Knesset, on Sunday.

Crowds on the streets of the city of Or Akiva chanted against Netanyahu, shouting, “You are the head, you are guilty,” and “Elections now”.

Protesters’ demands focus on the government, not the state itself. Many see Netanyahu as an obstacle to getting a deal to release Israeli prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance.

Carmi Paltzi Katzir, whose brother Elad Katzir is one of the captives, says that the government had failed. “I would have never believed that after six months I would need to fight with the government for my brother’s right to return alive, or to return at all,” she said.

Only a small number of demonstrators went further to call for a ceasefire and an end to the slaughter in Gaza. A poll for Israeli newspaper, Maariv, showed that 45 percent of Israelis prefer retired general Benny Gantz as prime minister. Just 38 percent of Israelis believe that Netanyahu should still be prime minister.

The poll shows that Netanyahu is now under massive pressure—and that there is dissatisfaction with the fact that Israel is far from its aim of wiping out the Palestinian resistance. But that doesn’t mean Israelis are demanding an end to the war in Gaza.

Another poll, conducted by Tel Aviv university, asked Israelis whether they think the number of casualties is justified to achieve Israel’s war aims.Some 66 percent said they were “completely justified”, while a further 21 percent said they were “reasonably justified”.

Protests inside Israel might rage against Netanyahu and his policies, but they largely support the apartheid regime.

Things they say…

‘Netanyahu continues to give the finger to the president of the US, and we’re sending more bombs’

Democrat senator Chris Van Hollen on the state of US-Israeli relations


‘Nothing will stop us… not American pressure and nothing else’

Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu dares the West to withhold its backing


‘I do have sympathy for bobbies on the frontline’

Labour minister Nick Thomas‑Symond says cops are the real victims of Tory anti-protest laws


‘We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid in Gaza. It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick’

US Republican House representative Tim Walberg wants all Gazans dead

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