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War on Gaza: Campaign launched in UK to stop paying tax over genocide complicity

New movement points to legal obligations under domestic and international law to prevent commission of genocide
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators wave Palestinian flags and hold placards as they protest in Parliament Square in London, on 21 February 2024 (Henry Nicholls/AFP)

A new campaign has been launched in the UK for people and businesses to stop paying tax, the funds from which it argues are contributing to the alleged Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Activists for the "No Tax for Genocide" campaign argue that under both international and domestic law, British citizens risk complicity in genocide with their tax money and have a legal right not to pay while the government provides support for Israel.

Ashish Prashar, co-founder and spokesperson for the campaign, which launched on Thursday, told Middle East Eye that there were a number of legal obligations, including the 1945 UN Charter, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and Terrorism Act 2000, which provided a legal basis for "tax resistance".

"Right now you're committing a crime as an individual when you pay your tax," he said.

"You're aiding and abetting a genocide."

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He said that at least one business in the UK, which has been staunchly critical of Israel's campaign in Gaza, had already refused to pay tax using the Gaza war as justification.

Prashar said that the British tax authorities had given the business, which he did not identify, a relatively muted response in a letter which he said "did not demand the tax" from them.

'As the British public, do you want to be culpable?'

- Ashish Prashar, campaigner

Once launched, the campaign website would provide forms and guidance on simplifying the process of non-payment.

After accumulating 100,000 pledges, individuals will be instructed to notify their regional and national tax authorities and begin withholding tax.

"They're using the money you have to veto ceasefires, to continue these atrocities, to provide political cover," Prashar explained.

"You've elected these individuals, you fund their ability to do their jobs, you're culpable. As the British public, do you want to be culpable?"

MEE contacted the UK Home Office for comment, but had not received a reply by the time of publication.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), in response to a request for comment, referred MEE to the government website's advice on what happens when tax bills aren't paid.

Acts of genocide?

The Israeli military onslaught on Gaza has killed at least 31,000 Palestinians since 7 October while the siege it lays on the small enclave has led to mass starvation. Many experts have branded the destruction a genocide. 

Following an application from South Africa, the International Court of Justice in January delivered an interim ruling calling on Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

How Israel defied ICJ provisional measures, one month on
Read More »

The court did not order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza, one of South Africa's key demands, and also did not immediately rule on whether Israel was committing genocide. But it did rule on several provisional measures, voted for by the vast majority of the court's 17 judges.

It ordered Israel to take measures to prevent acts that fall under Article II of the Genocide Convention, namely: killing members of a particular group, causing serious bodily or mental harm, deliberately bringing about the physical destruction of the group, and imposing measures intended to prevent births. 

So far, however, Israel has been accused of failing to adhere to the interim measures ordered by the court, particularly over failing to facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

The UN and other aid agencies have warned that Gaza is on the brink of famine, due to Israel's prevention of the entry of life-saving aid from the enclave's land crossings. 

At least 25 people have died from starvation, most of them children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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