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Israel-Palestine war: Thousands of artists accuse West of aiding war crimes

Tilda Swinton, Steve Coogan, Miriam Margolyes and others call for an immediate ceasefire over Gaza
Tilda Swinton, who signed the letter, speaking at an event in New York last year (AFP)
Tilda Swinton, who signed the letter, speaking at an event in New York last year (AFP)

More than 2,000 artists and celebrities have accused western governments of "aiding and abetting" Israel's "war crimes" in Gaza. 

"We are witnessing a crime and a catastrophe," they write in a letter calling for an "immediate ceasefire and the opening of Gaza’s crossings to allow humanitarian aid to enter unhindered".

The letter's signatories include the actors Tilda Swinton, Steve Coogan and Miriam Margolyes, the film directors Michael Winterbottom, Mike Leigh and Asif Kapadia, and the authors Marina Warner, Jacqueline Rose and Gillian Slovo.

"Our governments are not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them," the letter reads. 

"There will come a time when they are held to account for their complicity. But for now, while condemning every act of violence against civilians and every infringement of international law whoever perpetrates them, our obligation is to do all we can to bring an end to the unprecedented cruelty being inflicted on Gaza."

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The signatories describe Gaza as a "society of refugees and the children of refugees".

"Now, in their hundreds of thousands, bombarded from air, sea and land, Palestinians whose grandparents were forced out of their homes at the barrel of a gun are again being told to flee - or face collective punishment on an unimaginable scale," the letter reads.  

Citing Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s depiction of Palestinians as “human animals”, the artists write that Palestinians “have become people to whom almost anything can be done”.

Gallant made the comments while announcing Israel’s “complete siege” of Gaza, while also cutting off the supply of water, power, food and medicine to 2.3 million Palestinians in the enclave.

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Other signatories to the letter include the actors Charles Dance, Peter Mullan, Harriet Walter and Khalid Abdalla, the comedians Josie Long and Frankie Boyle, Massive Attack's Robert del Naja and the playwrights Tanika Gupta and Abbie Spallen.

At least 3,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began following a surprise Hamas-led attack on Israel on 7 October. More than a thousand of those killed are children. In Israel, 1,400 people have been killed.

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