Stop the War on Gaza!

Liberation statement on the occasion of the National March for Palestine, London

On this the morning of the National March for Palestine, under the banner of “Stop the War on Gaza”, Liberation reflects with sheer horror and revulsion upon the terrible conflict afflicting Israel and Palestine – particularly Gaza – since the fateful events in Israel two Saturdays ago.

While Liberation reaffirms its unequivocal condemnation of the murderous attacks and criminal acts, including hostage taking, perpetrated against civilians in Israel on Saturday 7 October, which constitute clear violations of international law; we nevertheless equally hold true to the principle that such transgressions, however heinous, demand to be met with a response rooted in criminal justice that is both proportionate and accords with international law…  And this can never extend to the collective punishment of an entire civilian population utterly blameless for the crimes in question.

Unfortunately, the prevailing discourse and narrative on this issue among Western governments appears to attach much less importance and weight to such considerations.

Thus, the world has borne witness to the hideous spectacle of the carpet bombing by Israel of one of the most densely populated areas on Earth for 14 long days and counting; the cutting off of supplies of food, water, electricity, and fuel; the forced evacuation of a civilian population from their homes, in this case from northern Gaza to south of Wadi Gaza, and the subsequent striking of civilian convoys en route as well as of southern Gaza; the striking of hospitals, mosques, churches, and UNRWA facilities; and the repeated striking of the Rafah Border Crossing, the only crossing point with Gaza not controlled by Israel, along with a refusal to rule out the targeting of aid convoys in cases where “circumstances necessitate doing so”.  Let us be clear and label these acts for what they are, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator…  War crimes and crimes against humanity.

As a result, according to statistics released by Euro-Med Monitor on Friday 20 October, at least 4,079 Palestinians have been killed, approximately 3,420 of whom were civilians – including 1,413 children and 806 women.  More than 15,000 Palestinians have been injured and maimed, more than half of them being children and women.  At least a quarter of northern Gaza has been completely destroyed while, according to the UN, 25% of houses in Gaza have been destroyed by Israeli bombing with more than 600,000 Palestinians in Gaza having been made homeless – the emergence of tent settlements, vulnerable and unprotected, conjuring scenes eerily reminiscent of the Nakba.

Liberation is likewise utterly appalled by the particular brand of so-called “international diplomacy” espoused and pursued by Western governments, led by the Biden administration in the US, over this past fortnight and the abject failure of that brand before the eyes of the world.  We believe this constitutes a fundamental dereliction of responsibility on the part of those powers that could have easily levied pressure on the Netanyahu regime in Israel to not only abide by international law, supposedly indiscriminate and universal in its application, but acquiesce to an immediate ceasefire – thereby bringing at least temporary relief to a situation that has rapidly taken on the dimensions of a humanitarian emergency.  It is no mere hyperbole to suggest that the continuation of the current situation unchecked could have dire ramifications in terms of a bloody conflict not only in Israel and Palestine, but right across the wider region – one that even seriously imperils world peace.

Nowhere was this bankruptcy on the part of Western powers more aptly demonstrated than in the shameful vetoing by the US on Wednesday 18 October of a UN Security Council Resolution that called for an immediate ceasefire, condemned all violence against civilians in the Israel-Hamas war, and urged the supply of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Palestinian civilians in Gaza, on the basis that it was too early to craft an appropriate Security Council response and that US-led diplomatic initiatives needed to be given time to bear fruit.  This has been quite legitimately interpreted in many quarters as the US’ extension of the “period of grace” afforded to Israel to pursue its bloody offensive with complete impunity.

The continued killings and arbitrary detaining of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, as well as the often violent arresting of Palestinian citizens of Israel for mere expressions of dissent against the government and its offensive, exposes the fallacy of the Netanyahu regime’s assertion that its actions are for the purpose of rooting out Hamas terrorists as opposed to pursuing its colonial mal-designs against the Palestinian people in general.  Furthermore, the Knesset’s decision to suspend and dock the pay of progressive Israeli legislator (and longtime ally of Liberation), MK Ofer Cassif, for openly criticising Israel’s war on Gaza, testifies to the absurdity of Israel’s claim as an upholder of Western values to be the shining beacon of democracy in the Middle East.  Meanwhile, the heating up of tensions on Israel’s northern frontier with Lebanon does not bode well for attempts to “contain” the current conflict and prevent it from spreading further.

Liberation makes clear that the fundamental antecedents to the terrible situation we witness unfolding before us today did not arise out of nowhere with the events of Saturday 7 October and assertions to the contrary should not substitute an honest and just appraisal of the issue that acknowledges the 75 year legacy of dispossession and injustice perpetrated against the Palestinian people, including 56 years and counting of a brutal colonial occupation, by the state of Israel.  The cynical exploitation of the tragedy on Saturday 7 October by the Netanyahu-led far-right settler regime, the most extreme in Israel’s history, to pursue its colonial endgame against the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for national self-determination must not and will not be allowed to pass unchallenged.

Liberation holds that it is incumbent upon the international community – under the auspices of the UN – to move to ensure that the terrible events of Saturday 7 October become the definitive juncture, the beginning of the end to this long-running and tragic conflict, and the point at which the world states clearly and resoundingly “enough is enough!”

The international community, particularly in the West, can choose to double down on its hitherto one-sided stance of unquestioning support for the state of Israel while blanketly condemning the Palestinians, thereby perpetuating the whole vicious cycle of this conflict.  Or it can make the brave and conscionable decision to uphold its own rules and bring pressure to bear on the government in Tel Aviv, leaving it under no doubt that the current situation and intolerable pressures to which the Palestinian people are subjected cannot somehow continue ad infinitum.

The only lasting solution to this crisis, the only remedy for this long-festering wound – for there is no other way – is nothing short of the realisation and upholding of the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to national self-determination encompassing full statehood.  Thus, Liberation reiterates its call for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine within the borders as they stood on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return for all Palestinian refugees – as per Oslo and the respective UN Resolutions on the issue – as well as the immediate and unconditional lifting of the air, land, and sea embargo on Gaza.

We vehemently reject the colonial discourse whereby the loss of civilian lives among the Palestinians is lamented as tragic but somehow nonetheless necessary. And, for this reason alone, we add our voice to the calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and proudly participate in today’s National March for Palestine.

Liberation will be joining the National March for Palestine – Stop the War on Gaza, October 21 2023. assembling at noon, Marble Arch, London. Look out for our flags and banner

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