Since the launching of its large-scale retaliatory military offensive on Gaza on 7 October 2023, the Israeli military has carried out indiscriminate, disproportionate and other unlawful attacks against civilian infrastructure causing widespread civilian casualties, including through the illegal use of explosive weapons and white phosphorus (Footnote 1).
Right now, civilian deaths in Gaza are rising at a staggering rate. The Israeli authorities' 16-year-long illegal and inhumane blockade has trapped 2.3 million people in Gaza, including children, the elderly, and disabled, under relentless bombardment by Israeli authorities. With nowhere to go, they face losing everything (Footnote 2).
The Israel-Hamas truce began on November 24th 2023 and was renewed twice before ending on Friday December 1st 2023. There was a pause and the release of hostages on both sides, which was a massive and welcome sigh of relief to people. However, on Saturday 2nd December 2023 there was an intensification of the conflict and the fighting resumed. SPEAK and many other humanitarian organisations think it is essential that we learn from what has happened in recent months, especially the role of the West and other nations in weapons sales in the present and historic involvement in a deeply traumatic and complicated situation in the past.
In the past, SPEAK Pray and Posts have looked at arms being sold to oppressive regimes and Israel has been one country a previous Pray and Post has focused on. At this current time we felt the need to bring this topic back and also to ask for the ceasefire to be in place and thoroughly maintained, not just brief breaks in the fighting.
We need to work towards an end of arming of people where human rights abuses are clearly being committed and call for the ceasefire to be sustained. The UK has been complicit in arming Israel. The UK has licensed the sale of GBP£442 million worth of arms ($539 million) to Israeli forces since 2015, including aircraft, bombs, and ammunition. Canada exported CDN$47 million ($33 million) in 2021 and 2022 (Footnote 3). Other countries also arming Israel include the United States and Germany, (Footnote 4).
Statistics on the number of deaths range depending on the sources and date of the source. But according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the attacks have killed more than 15,000 people, mostly civilians, including 5,500 children, (Footnote 5). Amnesty International has documented damning evidence of war crimes by Israeli forces in their intense bombardment of Gaza, including direct or indiscriminate attacks as well as other unlawful attacks and collective punishment of the civilian population (Footnote 6).
Many humanitarian groups including Amnesty International are calling for an immediate sustained ceasefire, the release of all remaining civilian hostages, and for Israel to end its illegal and inhumane siege of Gaza. Amnesty International is also calling for a comprehensive UN Security Council arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and other armed groups that covers the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and military material, including related technologies, parts and components, technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance.On the Israeli side more than 200 were taken hostage, including 33 children, by Hamas and other armed groups on 7 October, (Footnote 7).
Hamas leadership publicly said in January 2022 that it received at least US$70 million in military assistance from Iran, but did not specify during what period of time this support was provided, (Footnote 8).
Israel is using UK arms exports in a genocide against the Palestinian people. The UK government is complicit in these crimes not just by supplying these weapons for decades, but by repeatedly inciting Israel to commit war crimes against Palestinian civilians with impunity, in retaliation for Hamas’s horrific killings and abductions of Israelis including civilians.
The UK has consistently sold arms to Israel, in spite of its illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem since 1967. Since Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007 there have been five major military assaults on Gaza in 2008-09, 2012, 2014, and 2021 which killed almost 4,000 Palestinians. In the past 11 days alone at least 2,850. Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombardments supported by UK arms exports, including 100 children.
UK industry provides 15% of the components in the F35 stealth combat aircraft that are currently being used in the bombardment of Gaza. The contract for the components is estimated by Campaign Against Arms Trade to be worth £336m since 2016.
Between 2018 and 2022, the UK exported £146m in arms sales via Single Issue Export Licences. However, a large proportion of military equipment exported is via Open General Export Licences. These open licences, which include the F35 components, lack transparency and allow for unlimited quantities and value of exports of the specified equipment without further monitoring.
For more information, read CAAT’s fact sheet on UK arms to Israel.
Resources and links on UK military production for Israel
Leaders of Israel and Palestinian armed groups have made statements indicating that serious abuses by their forces will continue after the ceasefire and we really want to see an end to this. Israeli officials have sought to hold Gaza’s entire population responsible for the October 7 attack. We acknowledge this is a complicated issue, but innocent people don’t deserve to suffer and we want to advocate for the sustaining of the ceasefire and the urgent resuming of diplomatic negotiations.
1. Send a letter to UK Prime Minister and to your MP via email or through printing out this postcard and sending it. www.writetothem.com or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Encourage others in whichever group you are part of to spend time praying
3. Support our campaign financially to make an incredible difference to the work of SPEAK. https://www.speak.org.uk/donate
• Check out our partner’s web site:
Points for Prayer
• Pray for Peace this season among the Children of Abraham: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Israelis, Palestinians. Pray for mutual understanding, opportunities for peaceful negotiation and meaningful opportunities for dialogue for peace.
• Pray for protection for all the children and civilians in immediate danger.
• Pray for positive peaceful resolutions in ancient land disputes and miraculous positive solutions and creative positive negotiation and diplomacy.
• Pray for international action for the countries of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany, complicit in these abuses through supplying arms to Israel to STOP NOW and ask for a ceasefire. Human Rights Watch suggests that Iran is providing weapons to Palestinian armed groups and we need to pray for a change of heart there too.
• Pray for healing for all historic victims of genocide on the Israeli and Palestinian side. Pray that the Muslim world as a whole would repent for all the Jewish people they have historically expelled, and the Israelis would repent for their abusive treatment of the Palestinians. Pray for a massive miraculous turn around and peace movement for children of Abraham.
• Pray for healing of the collective historical wounds.
I’m writing to express my continued horror at the massive loss of civilian life and the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip and to urge you in the strongest terms to put pressure on the UK government and UK political leaders to take immediate action to protect all civilian life to ensure a new ceasefire is established and sustained.
The UK government must call for a re-established and sustained ceasefire t to stop Israel’s continued bombardment and lethal siege of the Gaza Strip and allow for full humanitarian access. We need to watch to make sure this never starts up again.
Israel is acting with impunity in the massacre of thousands of Palestinians and the complete devastation of the Gaza Strip. I am appalled by the UK’s continued complicity in Israel’s war crimes. The UK government has not suspended the trade in weapons, even though it is extremely likely that these weapons are being used to commit terrible human rights violations.
Please ensure that these sales in weapons are immediately suspended.
Israel’s complete siege of a population that it occupies, denying the entry of food, water and fuel into the Gaza Strip, is a war crime. Around half of the 2.3 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are children and 80% are refugees. Whilst Israel continues to prevent Gaza’s besieged population from being able to seek safety, it is indiscriminately bombing civilians throughout the territory, including homes, schools, hospitals and refugee camps. UN human rights experts have called Israel’s tactics ‘genocidal’.
“Israel’s further tightening of its illegal blockade of Gaza has left 2 million people without access to drinking water, food, medical supplies and fuel, leading to the collapse of the health system at a time when the number of those injured is over 25,000. At least 1.5 million Gazans have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to the attacks and as a result of orders from the Israeli army to move to the south of the Strip. “The only way to prevent further loss of civilian lives and allow lifesaving aid to reach those in desperate need in Gaza is to act now to demand an immediate ceasefire by all parties to the conflict in the occupied Gaza Strip. A ceasefire will also provide opportunities to secure the release of hostages and for independent international investigations to take place into the war crimes committed by all parties to address long-standing impunity, (Footnote 9).
“A particular concern, Deneslow James Deneslow, head of Save the Children’s conflict team added, was the impact on people in the crowded south of the strip, where it is estimated by Israel and aid agencies that about 2 million people are now living around Khan Younis and elsewhere. Many fled south after Israel demanded they evacuate the northern area around Gaza City last month.
“The next step of Israel’s attack on Gaza is expected to involve both an attempt to eliminate Hamas’s remaining fighting force in the north and to root it out from Khan Younis, where it believes the group’s leadership is based, despite the large numbers of civilians present.
“A high proportion of buildings – on some estimates up to 50% – have been seriously damaged in northern Gaza, after an intense air bombardment and ground assault. Khan Younis has also been bombed, but to a lesser extent, and the US has told Israel that it expects to see its military take a different approach in future.
“Deneslow said that “the issue is where will Gaza’s people go” in any southern offensive and added “there is sensitivity about population displacement”. There is a fear among aid organisations that the Palestinian population could eventually be forced from the Strip into Egypt amid critical shortages of water, food and other necessities, he added.”
In the next few months it is likely that more action and prayer will be needed to help protect people’s lives. So we will keep giving out more information for Action in future weeks/months. The situation is also in rapid urgent flux. We will also include more information from our partner groups as well as from the SPEAK Network itself.
If you would like to download and physically Print this Pray and Post please click here to grab it from Dropbox:
3 Source: Human Rights Watch = hrw.org
9 Dan Sabbagh Writing for the Guardian in Jerusalem Mon 27 Nov 2023 19.43 GMT
Other Good Groups for Sources of Info and Action
Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT Previously Christian Peacemaker Teams)
Extra SPEAK RELATED LINKS
Here are some more links to recent blogs and Network articles with sources for the 2023 Arms Trade Pray and Post listed in the Footnotes/ Endnotes.
We have made a summary of sources at the end of each of these articles. However, some of the source links (especially ones with Arabic text) could not be posted in full on the SPEAK Website as they made our operating system glitch.
So we have made them available in the following downloadable briefing paper summary instead:
We are currently raising support towards a new web site operating system, so we no longer have this challenge. Any support appreciated- https://www.speak.org.uk/donate
These articles complement our downloadable Pray and Post
SPEAK has always been big on partnership and supporting other groups with similar values for Justice and Peace. We have put a lot of links and tried to explore a controversial and complicated topic as best we could whilst referencing others who have also done research and been Catalysts for action. If you have any further thoughts reflections or points to this article you would like to respond to please feel free to email email@example.com Also if you are interested in writing blogs or contents for the website please do get in touch.