Israel’s trauma is not a free pass for war crimes, argues CLAUDIA WEBBE MP
IN THE wake of this month’s Hamas attack on Israeli settlements, the British government, along with other Western governments, gave vocal and emphatic backing to Israel’s “right” to “defend itself.”
This support has been undiluted even though Israel has cut off food, water and medical supplies to the civilian population of Gaza and unleashed a mass air assault on this tightly packed residential area — according to media reports, more bombs were dropped on tiny Gaza in 10 days than the US dropped on Afghanistan in its first year of operations there.
Israel has also ordered more than a million Gazan civilians, half of them children, to leave northern Gaza and cram into a tiny area against the Egyptian border.
The United Nations Office for Human Rights has condemned this as “mass ethnic cleansing” that looks set to be on an even worse scale than the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, that saw 750,000 innocent civilians violently driven from their homes, the area that is now Israel.
The Palestinian people are now overwhelmingly a refugee population. In a clear sign of what arguably could be described as Israel’s real intent, Israeli ministers have openly called for “another Nakba” to be inflicted on Gazans.
The UN secretary-general and its Human Rights Agency have said emphatically that Israel’s actions toward civilians in Gaza are a war crime, while the UN children’s agency has condemned the appalling physical and psychological impact on children.
Yet the British government has continued to support such actions as part of Israel’s “right to defend herself,” tacking onto its statements a line saying that Israel must follow international law, as if murdering civilians can somehow be done legally.
The government’s stance was mirrored by the decision of opposition leader Keir Starmer who appeared to tell radio broadcaster LBC that Israel has a “right” to impose the cut-off on Gaza, a position which also appeared to be supported by members of Starmer’s front bench during various now-notorious media interviews.
This one-sided response of the British Establishment has also been seen in Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s order to police forces to treat even displays of the Palestinian flag as a potentially criminal act, leading to a number of arrests at Palestinian solidarity demonstrations.
The government has also pledged extensive direct military support for Israel against Gaza, a region in which children represent half of the population.
However, collective punishment is a war crime, under international law, against Gaza’s 2.5 million civilians — as is forced transfer of populations.
PARODY adverts mocking Rishi Sunak for giving public money to oil giants have appeared across London’s bus stops.
The Prime Minister is shown shaking an oil-soaked hand next to a Conservative logo with the words: “A helping hand for those in need: £3.75 billion public money to oil company Equinor if Rosebank oil field goes ahead.”
The spoof ads have been spotted in Hackney, Southwark and Tower Hamlets so far, and come after Fossil Free London campaigners last week delivered giant gifts to the Norwegian embassy to represent the £3.75bn tax breaks developers of the North Sea’s Rosebank field could receive.
Norway’s state-backed oil and gas giant Equinor would be among the firms set to profit while the taxpayer picks up almost all the costs of the development.
Earlier this month Mr Sunak claimed a planned expansion of oil and gas drilling in the North Sea was “entirely consistent” with the government’s goal to reach net zero by 2050.
Today the NHS is in a deep crisis. Its millions-long waiting list condemns patients to seriously delayed treatments, often painfully, sometimes dangerously. Its hospitals are so overloaded ambulances line up outside, waiting hours to discharge patients.
Those who can afford it are going private: the number paying for private hospital treatment has risen by nearly a third since 2019.
This raises demand for trained medical workers in the private sector, with reports earlier this year that doctors were being offered £5,000 to recruit NHS colleagues to undertake private work, accelerating a vicious cycle in resource competition when the NHS already carries over 100,000 vacancies.
The logic is towards a two-tier healthcare system in which those who can pay get faster treatment while the “universal” health service is reduced through under-resourcing to basic cover for the poor.
Preventing this means challenging the two main drivers of NHS decline: underinvestment and privatisation.
Since Tony Blair first introduced private provision within the NHS, the service itself has become a lucrative source of private profit. Extortionate PFI contracts, state collusion with big pharma over drug prices and reliance on private providers all waste NHS money.
The last risks turning our health service into a commissioner rather than a provider of services, a brand name that masks a for-profit health system.
That betrayal of Bevan’s vision is the current prospectus from both Tories and Labour. Saving the NHS means building a mass campaign for real solutions to its twin crises: a serious increase in investment, and an end to all private-sector involvement.
EVERYONE who works in or depends on the NHS should be deeply concerned at Keir Starmer’s vision for the service.
Like so many cheerleaders for public-sector “reform” — which has invariably meant fragmentation and privatisation over the last 40 years — he accuses those calling for higher investment of avoiding the big issues. Yet that is what he is doing.
Starmer dodges questions on NHS pay, despite ongoing disputes involving doctors, nurses, paramedics, porters and domestics.
These disputes have prompted the biggest strikes in NHS history this year — but Labour is “not focused” on pay rises, he says.
That’s not good enough from the leader of a party founded to represent organised labour. Especially since we know from his previous comments that they regard inflation-proofed pay demands as “unaffordable.”
Starmer says the NHS cannot cope with more years of Tory government, and he is right. But on a prospectus like this — no promises on investment, no promises on pay, blind faith in “technology” and continued exploitation by the private sector — its agony would continue on his watch, too.
ENVIRONMENT experts called for urgent action from Westminster today after scientists predicted a 66 per cent chance that a global average temperature of more than 1.5°C will be recorded over the next five years.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) also said there is a 98 per cent chance of the hottest year on record being broken during that time.
Report co-leader Dr Leon Hermanson said that the 1.5°C mark above pre-industrial levels has never been crossed before, with the current record being 1.28°C.
He said that the record will likely come from a combination of greenhouse gases and a naturally occurring El Nino event, a heating of the eastern Pacific which affects rainfall and temperature globally.
Green Party co–leader Carla Denyer urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “do the right thing” and end the plans to open the new coal mine in Cumbria and oil field in Rosebank as well as dropping “all new climate-wrecking oil and gas licences immediately.”