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Israel-Palestine war: Legal centre warns Labour leadership they will prosecute for 'war-crimes' complicity

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians’ notice follows a series of statements of unequivocal support for Israeli aggression by senior Labour politicians
Last week, opposition leader Keir Starmer affirmed Israel’s "right" to totally cut power and water supplies to Palestinians in Gaza (Reuters)

A UK-based legal centre has issued the Labour leadership with a notice of intention to prosecute any UK politician for their complicity in war crimes in Gaza.

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) announcement follows another notice issued to Rishi Sunak on Saturday over the UK providing "military, economic and political support to Israel, which has aided Israel's perpetration of war crimes".

It warned that UK government officials could be individually liable for “aiding and abetting” Israeli war crimes through public statements of support.

The notice came after a series of senior Labour politicians voiced unequivocal support for Israeli air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip and failed to condemn the assault as a breach of international law.

The ICJP letter emphasised that “under international criminal law…support provided to perpetrators of international crimes can be investigated and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court”.

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The notice comes amid a week of Israeli air strikes on Gaza, which have killed more than 2,808 Palestinians, including 853 children and 936 women. A further 59 have been killed in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. 

The assault followed an unprecedented attack in which Palestinian fighters led by Hamas breached the barrier fence surrounding the besieged enclave and killed more than 1,400 Israelis.

Last week, Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition, affirmed Israel’s "right" to totally cut power and water supplies to Palestinians in Gaza, while Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow attorney general repeatedly refused to say whether the total siege of the enclave was in line with international law in a BBC interview.

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“Both politicians are human rights lawyers and should be well aware that this argument does not justify collective punishment, which is illegal under international law,” the ICJP said in a statement.

According to the statement, Starmer retracted his endorsement of the siege following the notice on Saturday, but failed to “acknowledge and condemn the war crimes and crimes against humanity already perpetrated”.

Starmer's comments prompted a slew of resignations by Labour councillors, some of whom said that the party leader appeared to “condone the use of collective punishment”.

Yesterday, Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy refused to say whether he supported the Israeli directive for the 1.2 million civilians in north Gaza to move south, saying “I'm hoping one day to be foreign secretary and a chief diplomat, so it's not a 'yes or no' [question]."

The notice comes as Scotland Yard’s War Crimes Unit opened calls for evidence of war crimes in the region, according to the ICJP. 

“This could lead to senior politicians being prosecuted for war crimes by Scotland Yard,” the centre said in a statement.

ICJP is co-chaired by Crispin Blunt, an MP belonging to Sunak's Conservative Party and a former chair of parliament's foreign affairs committee. 

He told Sky News on Saturday that the forcible transfer of people in Gaza breached international law, and that parties with knowledge of such breaches made themselves "complicit".

"And as international law has developed in this area, the fact of being complicit makes you equally guilty to the party carrying out the crime.”

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