FOUR arms factories producing parts for Israeli fighter jets were shut down in protests by more than 1,000 trade unionists today.
Campaigners calling for an end to Britain’s complicity in war crimes being committed in Gaza blockaded sites at Bournemouth, Glasgow, Brighton and Lancashire.
The demonstrations were organised by campaign group Workers for a Free Palestine in co-ordination with workers in France, Denmark and the Netherlands, involving members from trade unions including Unite, Unison, GMB, the NEU, the BMA, UCU, Bectu and BFAWU.
The campaign group said they targeted sites run by defence giant BAE Systems which produces parts for the F-35 stealth combat jet currently being used by Israel to bombard Gaza.
More than 600 blockaded Eaton Mission Systems in Bournemouth alone.
A spokeswoman for Workers for a Free Palestine said: “The fighter jets these factories help to produce are being used to imprison the people of Gaza in a death trap.
“Workers all over Britain are rising up for Palestine, saying we will not allow arms used in a genocide to be supplied in our name and funded by our taxes.
Every single state in the world has a positive duty to intervene to prevent the Genocide in Gaza now, not after a court has reached a determination of genocide. This is made crystal clear in para 431 of the International Court of Justice judgment in Bosnia vs Serbia:
This obviously does not mean that the obligation to prevent genocide only comes into being when perpetration of genocide commences ; that would be absurd, since the whole point of the obligation is to prevent, or attempt to prevent, the occurrence of the act. In fact, a State’s obligation to prevent, and the corresponding duty to act, arise at the instant that the State learns of, or should normally have learned of, the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed. From that moment onwards, if the State has available to it means likely to have a deterrent effect on those suspected of preparing genocide, or reasonably suspected of harbouring specific intent (dolus specialis), it is under a duty to make such use of these means as the circumstances permit.
This case was specifically on the application of the Genocide Convention. That the ICJ has ruled there is a positive duty on states to act to prevent genocide makes it even more astonishing to me that no state has invoked the Genocide Convention over the blatant genocide being committed by Israel in Gaza.
“Facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, I urge the council to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe and appeal for a humanitarian cease-fire to be declared.”
With over 16,000 Palestinians dead just two months into Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday demanded immediate action by the U.N. Security Council.
For the first time since becoming secretary-general nearly seven years ago, Guterres invoked Article 99, a rarely used section of the U.N. Charter empowering him to bring to the attention of the council “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”
U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that Guterres was invoking Article 99 “given the scale of the loss of human life in Gaza and Israel, in such a short amount of time.”
“I think it’s arguably the most important invocation,” Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters, “in my opinion, the most powerful tool that he has.”
“The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis.”
Guterres wrote to José Javier De la Gasca Lopez Domínguez, the Ecuadorian president of the Security Council, that “more than eight weeks of hostilities in Gaza and Israel have created appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.”
The U.N. chief reaffirmed his condemnation of the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel—in which around 1,200 people were killed and over 200 others were captured—that led to the war. He called accounts of sexual violence “appalling” and stressed that the remaining hostages “must be immediately and unconditionally released.”
He also emphasized that “civilians throughout Gaza face grave danger,” with the Israeli airstrikes and raids damaging more than half of all homes and displacing about 80% of the 2.3 million residents. Over a million of them have sought shelter at U.N. facilities, “creating overcrowded, undignified, and unhygienic conditions,” while others “find themselves on the street.”
“The healthcare system in Gaza is collapsing,” he noted, pointing out that only 14 of 36 hospitals are operating at all. “I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible. An even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into neighboring countries.”
Already, conditions in Gaza are making “it impossible for meaningful humanitarian operations to be conducted,” Guterres added. “The capacity of the United Nations and its humanitarian partners has been decimated by supply shortages, lack of fuel, interrupted communications, and growing insecurity.”
“The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region. Such an outcome must be avoided at all cost,” the U.N. leader warned. “The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis.”
“I urge the members of the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe,” he wrote. “I reiterate my appeal for a humanitarian cease-fire to be declared. This is urgent. The civilian population must be spared from greater harm.”
The United States—a supporter of Israel’s war and one of the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members—vetoed a mid-October resolution condemning violence against civilians in Israel and Gaza and urging “humanitarian pauses” for aid delivery.
Roughly a month later, the Security Council approved a Gaza resolution that calls on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law and advocates for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors.”
Dr. Christos Christou, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, said at the time that “the unacceptably jumbled and sluggish process finally led to the adoption of a text that does not come close to reflecting the severity of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”
“When military goods can contribute to human rights violations or international humanitarian law, that export is strictly prohibited,” said one campaigner. “It is incomprehensible that, despite clear warnings, the government has knowingly deviated from this.”
A Dutch court on Monday heard opening arguments in a case brought by four human rights organizations that have accused the government of the Netherlands of being complicit in Israeli war crimes due to its export of military supplies as Israel kills thousands of civilians in Gaza.
Supplying the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) with parts for F-35 fighter jets, which are stored in a warehouse in the Netherlands, puts the Dutch government at risk for “becoming complicit in violations of international humanitarian law,” the director of the Dutch branch of Amnesty International , one of the plaintiffs, said when the lawsuit was announced last month.
Amnesty is joined by Oxfam Novib—the Dutch chapter of Oxfam International—The Rights Forum, and PAX in the case, which is expected to result in a judgement around December 15.
The groups filed the lawsuit after government documents showed the Netherlands had allowed at least one shipment of reserve parts for F-35s since October 7, Al Jazeera reported .
The Dutch Defense Ministry wrote in a letter to Parliament that “it cannot be established that the F-35s are involved in grave violations of the humanitarian laws of war,” but with nearly 16,000 people killed in Gaza in less than two months—including more than 6,600 children —the human rights groups aim to test that claim in court.
“The state must immediately stop its deliveries of F-35 parts to Israel,” lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said Monday at the Hague District Court. “That is its obligation under… Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions, it is its obligation under the Genocide Treaty to prevent genocide, and it is its obligation under export law.”
Martje van Nes, PAX’s director of organization, pointed out last month that “the Netherlands has a very concrete assessment framework for arms exports.”
“When military goods can contribute to human rights violations or international humanitarian law, that export is strictly prohibited,” said van Nes. “It is incomprehensible that, despite clear warnings, the government has knowingly deviated from this. This makes them responsible for the deployment of the equipment.”
PAX noted on Monday that the call for the Netherlands to end shipments of any supplies that Israel could use to continue its massacre of Palestinian civilians—in retaliation for an attack by Hamas in October that killed 1,200 Israelis—”is all the more urgent” considering the end of a temporary cease-fire on Friday. More than 800 people have been killed since the pause in fighting ended last week, and Israel was stepping up its ground attacks on Monday.
“As far as we are concerned, the government must take action now to protect citizens,” said PAX on social media. The group has demanded a permanent humanitarian cease-fire.
Dagmar Oudshoorn, director of Amnesty International in the Netherlands, said that as the host country “of both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court,” the Dutch government “likes to present itself as a champion of international law.”
“Our government is losing all credibility right now,” she said. “Evident violations such as food, water, and fuel blockade, the forced displacement of the population, and the bombing of schools and hospitals, are not mentioned. And by supplying armies, the Netherlands runs the risk of becoming complicit in violations of international humanitarian law.”
The Netherlands has maintained since October 7 that Israel “has the right to defend itself” and has called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to adhere to international law, but the groups said the IDF is clearly not doing so and should lose the support of the country.
“This complicity must stop now,” said Gerard Jonkman, director of The Rights Forum.
“HELL on Earth” returned to Gaza today in the words of a UN official, as Israel resumed its murderous bombing campaign with dozens of air strikes on the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
Over 100 solidarity actions will take place for Palestine across Britain on Saturday as peace campaigners demand an end to the killing.
After almost a week’s truce which saw Hamas release 78 hostages seized in its October 7 raid on Israel, and Israel free 240 Palestinian prisoners of the thousands in its jails, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) unleashed another wave of bombing which had killed at least 109 people today when the Morning Star went to press, bringing the total death toll from its war above 15,000.
The Stop the War Coalition’s Lindsey German told the Morning Star that Gaza faced the “hideous prospect [of] winter cold, disease and food shortages and now renewed bombardment by Israel.
“The West Bank is also seeing increasing violence with many young Palestinians being shot and arrested every day.”
A window on the horror was exposed by the Unite union, which has a twinning arrangement with Shu’fat refugee camp which borders East Jerusalem and houses more than 16,000 refugees.
Colin Lomas, secretary of the twinning group, said: “The Shu’fat checkpoint [into Jerusalem] is frequently closed, making the camp an open prison subject to frequent incursions by the Israeli army.
“The United Nations health centre in the camp, already desperately overstretched, has experienced extensive damage.
“The Shu’fat youth centre has been raided on several occasions, resulting in the arrest of many young people.
“Homes have also been raided, with people being summarily arrested and imprisoned, mostly without charge or trial.
“Anything other than sustained peace and at-scale emergency aid will mean catastrophe for the children of Gaza,” said a UNICEF spokesperson.
Israel resumed its assault on the Gaza Strip Friday morning just minutes after the pause with Hamas officially expired, ending a fragile seven-day truce that created conditions for the release of hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian captives and allowed additional—but still inadequate—humanitarian aid to enter the besieged territory.
Gaza’s health ministry said that Israel’s post-pause airstrikes killed more than 30 people and wounded dozens more, hitting a multi-story residential building and other civilian infrastructure in the southern part of the strip, where many Gazans sought refuge as Israeli forces targeted the north in earlier stages of its attack.
The Associated Press reported that Israeli forces “dropped leaflets over parts of southern Gaza urging people to leave their homes, suggesting it was preparing to widen its offensive.”
“The Israeli military also released a map carving up the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered parcels, and asked residents to learn the number associated with their location in case of an eventual evacuation,” AP added. “It said the map would eventually be interactive, but it was not immediately clear how Palestinians would be updated on their designated parcel numbers and calls for evacuation.”
Robert Mardini, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, toldAgence France-Presse that the resumption of bombing drags Gazans “back to the nightmarish situation they were in before the truce took place,” with millions of people in desperate need of food, medicine, clean water, and sanitary living conditions.
“People are at a breaking point, hospitals are at a breaking point, the whole Gaza Strip is in a very precarious state,” said Mardini. “There is nowhere safe to go for civilians. We have seen in the hospitals where our teams have been working, that over the past days, hundreds of severely injured people have arrived. The influx of severely wounded outpaced the real capacity of hospitals to absorb and treat the wounded, so there is a massive challenge.”
James Elder, spokesperson for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), warned Friday that “the humanitarian situation in Gaza is so perilous that anything other than sustained peace and at-scale emergency aid will mean catastrophe for the children of Gaza.”
“To accept the sacrifice of the children in Gaza is humanity giving up,” said Elder. “This is our last chance, before we delve into seeking to explain yet another utterly avoidable tragedy.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is clinging to his job amid plummeting approval ratings, had pledged to continue assailing Gaza following the end of the truce, which marked the first pause in fighting since the war began in the wake of a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel in early October.
The Financial Times reported Friday that Israel’s government is preparing for a war that “will stretch for a year or more, with the most intensive phase of the ground offensive continuing into early 2024.”
“The multi-phase strategy envisages Israeli forces, who are garrisoned inside north Gaza, making an imminent push deep into the south of the besieged Palestinian enclave,” FT reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the planning. “The goals include killing the three top Hamas leaders—Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Marwan Issa—while securing ‘a decisive’ military victory against the group’s 24 battalions and underground tunnel network and destroying its ‘governing capability in Gaza.'”
An investigation published Thursday by +972 Magazine and Local Call found that Israeli forces have used “expanded authorization for bombing non-military targets” and “the loosening of constraints regarding expected civilian casualties,” as well as “an artificial intelligence system to generate more potential targets than ever,” to wage its devastating war on Gaza, killing more than 14,500 people in less than two months and displacing 70% of the territory’s population.
In one case that anonymous Israeli sources described to the two outlets, Israel’s military command “knowingly approved the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in an attempt to assassinate a single top Hamas military commander.”
“Another reason for the large number of targets, and the extensive harm to civilian life in Gaza, is the widespread use of a system called ‘Habsora’ (‘The Gospel’), which is largely built on artificial intelligence and can ‘generate’ targets almost automatically at a rate that far exceeds what was previously possible,” +972 and Local Call found. “This AI system, as described by a former intelligence officer, essentially facilitates a ‘mass assassination factory.'”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly urged Israel to do more to protect civilians in Gaza during a meeting with the nation’s leaders on Thursday, but the Israeli government has repeatedly brushed aside public and private concerns expressed by the Biden administration, which continues to provide unconditional support for the assault.
“Blinken suggested that his call for protecting Palestinian civilians had reached receptive ears, at least in general terms,” The New York Times reported. “He did not cite any specific commitments by Israel, however.”