Dear Prime Minister,
Subject: The UK must demand that Israel immediately stops its offensive into Rafah and call for a ceasefire now
We write to you as international humanitarian, peacebuilding and human rights organisations. Many of us have worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for decades, with our staff and partners among those currently displaced and fearing for their lives in the Gaza Strip. Since October 7, the Government has heard all of us and many, many more – including in real time from Palestinians themselves in Gaza – give warnings or briefings of the following: 1.7 million people forcibly displaced only to be bombed again, more than 11,500 children killed and a catastrophic number of orphans, with a new acronym unique to the Gaza Strip – WCNSF: wounded child, no surviving family – and evidence of widespread starvation and infectious disease.
As you know, following Israel’s ‘evacuation’ orders for areas in northern and central Gaza, many Palestinians fled to the south, to Rafah, a designated ‘safe zone’ by Israel. 1.3 million people are currently trapped in Rafah. It is one of the very few places where extremely limited humanitarian aid is able to enter the Gaza Strip.
We are writing with urgent concern about the overnight attacks on Rafah following Israel’s announcement that it aims to conduct a destructive military campaign on the most densely populated stretch on Earth. The military operation intensified last night, with Rafah subjected to the Israeli military’s increasingly intense bombardment with a further 67 people killed by Israel, mostly civilians, including women and children. This number will continue to rise. The beleaguered and strained humanitarian system will fully collapse as need will only rise and access decrease.
We ask you now to use the UK’s full diplomatic pressure to demand Israel halt its military campaign, which has already resulted in the killing of 28,000 people
Will the UK act now, as red lines are being continuously crossed despite warnings from the UK to Israel on the toll of casualties being “too high”? Or will the UK continue its current path, which each day further is enabling Israel’s actions with impunity? Will the UK risk further moral complicity in the ongoing death from Israeli attacks?
We are extremely dismayed and profoundly alarmed after having met with UK senior officials, including the Foreign Secretary, over the last 128 days, explaining in clear terms the scale of the catastrophe and the consequences of the current UK approach towards Israel. We, as agencies united, attempted to work together with the Government towards leveraging what the UK can do to halt these atrocities. We are losing confidence in Ministers as the UK appears utterly incapable of restraining Israel in its current attempts. We write with immediate demands for the UK:
- Call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, including calling off the Rafah offensive. This is the only way to prevent further loss of civilian lives, to secure the release of hostages, and the entry of life-saving humanitarian aid.
- Suspend all arms export licenses and any other forms of military support with immediate effect.
- The UK should ensure Israel fully implements the International Court of Justice orders.
We call on the UK Government to do all it can to persuade the Government of Israel to finally change course. Over a million people in Rafah are at grave risk. We know from history what happens when states stand by and do nothing. We urge you to act now.
- ActionAid UK
- Action For Humanity
- Amos Trust
- Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding)
- Christian Aid
- Embrace the Middle East
- Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS)
- Humanity and Inclusion
- Islamic Relief UK
- Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
- Minority Rights Group International
- Muslim Aid
- Omega Research Foundation
- Peace Direct
- Plan International UK
- Quakers in Britain
- Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice
- United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK)
- Videre est Credere
- War on Want
- Welfare Association
- WIPLF UK
- Women’s Platform – Northern Ireland