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War on Gaza: UK has enabled Israel's genocide and now the murder of its own citizens

Despite three Britons being slaughtered by the Israeli military, the UK continues to aid Israel through trade and arms sales. Sanctions and an arms embargo must be implemented now
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attends a Q&A in Rotherham, north of England, on 7 March, 2024 (AFP)

On Monday 1 April, the world’s eyes were opened to the Israeli occupation’s sinister attack on humanitarian aid after seven aid workers were killed by an Israeli air strike, upon returning from coordinating the delivery of 100 tonnes of food in central Gaza.

The World Central Kitchen (WCK) said its convoy was hit "despite coordinating its movements with the Israeli military”, and that “two of the cars hit were clearly marked as aid vehicles".

Three of those killed - James Henderson, 33, John Chapman, 57, and James Kirby, 47 - were British, veterans of the UK armed forces and working as part of WCK's security team.

If Israel's tactic to weaponise aid and deliberately attempt to starve Gaza was not sufficiently clear, it is now. And this was by no means an isolated incident.

Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s aid coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, has described Gaza as “one of the most dangerous places on earth for humanitarian workers”.

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He said: “As of 20 March, at least 196 humanitarians had been killed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since October 2023. This is nearly three times the death toll recorded in any single conflict in a year.”

'Famine-like conditions'

The occupation has a history of killing aid workers. The tragedy of the Mavi Marmara is still vivid in the minds of Human Aid and Advocacy workers, who were among hundreds of humanitarians from 50 different countries working to deliver a flotilla of 10,000 tonnes of aid into the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2010.

On that devastating night, 10 aid workers were killed and hundreds injured by Israeli forces who attacked by land, air and sea, shooting people on sight. 

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Today the illegal Israeli occupation has created “famine-like conditions”, says the humanitarian group Refugees International.

Its research on the ground also found that the occupation “consistently and groundlessly impeded aid operations within Gaza, blocked legitimate relief operations and resisted implementing measures that would genuinely enhance the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza”.

John Chapman (l), James Kirby (c) and James Henderson (r) were killed in Israeli drone strikes on Monday 1 April 2024 (Reuters/Collage)
Britons John Chapman (l), James Kirby (c) and James Henderson (r) were killed in Israeli drone strikes on Monday 1 April 2024 (Reuters/Collage)

Moreover, Gaza’s health ministry has stated that 27 children and three adults had so far died from malnutrition, and this estimate was expected to increase imminently. 

This intimidation of aid workers puts NGOs in a difficult position as to whether to risk their workers or pull out completely, as we saw with WCK, which has now halted operations in Gaza.

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Moreover, the frequent disruptions in trying to deliver emergency aid indicate that Israel is implementing starvation as a tactic of war.

The UN's most senior human rights official, Volker Turk, stated that there was a "plausible" case that “Israel was using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza".

Despite three British citizens being indiscriminately murdered by the Israeli military, the UK continues to aid Israel through trade and arms sales.

The UK’s unwavering allyship to the Israeli occupation has enabled a genocide to unfold as well as aiding and abetting the deaths of its own citizens.

Human Aid and Advocacy has launched the #NoToGenocide campaign, to draw attention to how the occupation is using starvation as a weapon of war, and to demand that the UK government end its complicity through cutting trade and arms sales to Israel.

A ceasefire and short-term aid are not enough. We must put in place sanctions and an arms embargo.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Maira Mirza is the Research and Communications Officer at Human Aid & Advocacy. She previously worked as the Campaigns Co-ordinator and Editor at Islam21c.
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