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Israel-Palestine war: Legal centre seeks to prosecute UK for Israeli 'war crimes' complicity

International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, co-chaired by Conservative MP, says Britain aiding path to war crimes in Gaza
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman attend at 10 Downing Street in London on 12 October 2023 (AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Home Secretary Suella Braverman at 10 Downing Street in London on 12 October 2023 (AFP)

A UK-based legal centre has announced its intention to seek to prosecute British government officials over alleged complicity in Israeli war crimes in Gaza. 

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) issued a notice to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over the UK providing "military, economic and political support to Israel, which has aided Israel's perpetration of war crimes". 

It said that Israel's efforts at a forcible transfer of more than one million people in north Gaza to southern parts of the enclave in less than 24 hours may amount to both "a war crime and a crime against humanity". 

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"The siege of Gaza, restricting electricity, food, water and other basic necessities, constitutes collective punishment, which is also a war crime under the Geneva Convention," it added. 

"Now that war crimes have been carried out, continuation of such support and assistance would mean that UK government officials would be complicit in the commission of war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity." 

The notice by ICJP has been sent to Scotland Yard's War Crimes Unit, which has asked for evidence of war crimes in the region.

Israel has killed at least 2,215 people during its bombing campaign in Gaza over the past week, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Of those killed, 724 are children and 458 are women.

Over the same period, Israeli troops have killed 54 people in the occupied West Bank. 

The war erupted on 7 October after Hamas launched a surprise multi-front assault on Israel, firing thousands of rockets and sending fighters into Israeli territory across land, air, and sea. More than 1,300 Israelis have been killed, and scores of soldiers and civilians taken captive back to Gaza.


The UK government has said that it supported Israel's "right to defend itself and to take action against terrorism". 

"Unlike Hamas, Israeli President Herzog has said their armed forces will operate in accordance with international law," a Foreign Office spokesperson said on Saturday.

"Given that Hamas has embedded itself in the civilian population in Gaza, it is important that Israel takes all possible measures to protect ordinary Palestinians and to facilitate humanitarian aid," it added.

During those comments where President Herzog claimed Israel operated within international law, the president apportioned blame on all residents of Gaza. 

"It is an entire nation out there that is responsible. It's not true this rhetoric about civilians not [being] aware, not involved. It's absolutely not true," he said on Friday.

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"They could have risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d'etat."

ICJP is co-chaired by Crispin Blunt, an MP belonging to Sunak's Conservative party and a former chair of parliament's foreign affairs committee. 

He told Sky News on Saturday that the forcible transfer of people in Gaza breached international law, and that parties with knowledge of such breaches made themselves "complicit".

"And as international law has developed in this area, the fact of being complicit makes you equally guilty to the party carrying out the crime."

Keir Starmer, leader of the UK opposition, also come under criticism this week after stating that Israel had the "right" to totally cut power and water supplies to Palestinians in Gaza.

Asked about Israel's complete seige on Gaza and the cutting of water and electricity, Starmer told broadcaster LBC: "I think that Israel does have that right, it is an ongoing situation. Obviously everything should be done within international law, but I don't want to step away from the core principles that Israel has the right to defend herself."

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