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Israel-Palestine: London police tell victims to report 'terrorism, war crimes' committed in Palestine

UK police gather evidence of alleged crimes against humanity carried out in Israel and Palestinian territories 
Protesters hold placards and flags as they chant slogans during a rally in support of Palestinians, outside of the Houses of Parliament in central London on 15 November 2023 (AFP)
Protesters with placards and flags chant slogans during a rally in support of Palestinians, outside the Houses of Parliament in London on 15 November 2023 (AFP)

The London Metropolitan Police has asked witnesses and victims to report "war crimes" committed in Palestinian territories, according to a British legal centre.

The police force had been previously criticised for making a similar appeal to travellers arriving from Israel who may have been exposed to acts of "terrorism" but not those coming from the Gaza Strip. 

The updated notice has been expanded to include those who have been in Palestinian territories and may have "witnessed or been a victim of terrorism, war crimes or crimes against humanity". 

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), which is collecting evidence as part of its efforts to prepare a war crimes case against Israel, offered to help the public deliver such evidence to the police. 

UK police said any evidence gathered regarding war crimes in the region from June 2014 onward would be shared with the International Criminal Court, which is investigating such claims.

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The Metropolitan Police's crimes unit has so far received at least 20 referrals as it investigates reports of war crimes committed in Gaza, according to the Independent.

Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a British-Palestinian surgeon who recently returned from Gaza, gave his testimony to police earlier this week about alleged war crimes he said he had witnessed in the besieged Palestinian strip. 

The doctor, who spent weeks working in two of Gaza's main hospitals since the war erupted on 7 October, has accused Israel of targeting civilians fleeing its bombardment of the besieged territory with white phosphorus and snipers.

Speaking to Middle East Eye in London on Monday, Abu-Sittah said the "sheer colossal number of 7,000 to 8,000 wounded, and around 7,000 children killed in only 40 days is just breathtaking".

"The wounds sustained by many of my patients showed markings that are similar to the ones inflicted by the use of white phosphorus and other incendiary weaponry," said Abu-Sittah.

"Following Israel's ground invasion, we began, for the first time since I was in Gaza, to see patients with high-velocity sniper injuries used to target civilians that are visiting or trying to visit the hospital."

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have earlier accused Israel of using white phosphorus in its military operations in Gaza and southern Lebanon. 

The Israeli military has denied it used white phosphorus and said the claim "made against the IDF [Israeli army] regarding the use of white phosphorus in Gaza is unequivocally false". 

Tayyab Ali, who runs the ICJP and accompanied Abu-Sittah in his meeting with the police, said the centre is taking eyewitness testimonies from investigators inside Gaza and compiling lists of alleged violations perpetrated by Israel during its war on the territory.

The legal group added that it will also be collating evidence against British citizens who have gone to Israel to fight in Gaza.

During a Monday press conference in London with Abu-Sittah, the ICJP showed journalists a compilation of footage of his time in Gaza from various hospitals in the enclave.

The footage included pictures of children who had lost limbs, and wounds sustained by Palestinians that appeared consistent with the use of white phosphorus.

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