Duncan Shipley-Smith

Mr Netanyahu and the people of Israel:

The world is once again outraged by Israel’s shocking and violent onslaught against the people of Gaza. It is a war crime to deliberately target non-combatant civilians.

Firing high-explosive ordnance into one of the most densely packed civilian areas on the planet is illegal, cowardly and despicable. This is not ‘self-defence’ this is ethnic cleansing and genocide writ large. These are the actions of a terrorist, rogue state and must be condemned.

Israel’s conduct in this grossly asymmetrical military operation falls far below that which we expect from a self-declared civilised democracy.

The people of Gaza are under an unlawful siege. They live in the world’s largest open air prison whose borders are sealed by Israel and Egypt.

Restrictions on travel, trade, medical supplies, clean drinking water and electricity amounts to collective punishment of a civilian population and is unlawful under international statute.

These restrictions compound the suffering of the civilians in Gaza and exacerbate the casualty rate. Each and every one of them is entitled to an equality of human rights that we enjoy.

That includes walking to school or playing on the beach without having one’s family torn to pieces by indiscriminate artillery fire or hellfire missiles.

These victims are not ‘terrorists’. That label belongs to the members of the Israel Defence Force raining terror on a defenceless population.

It is time for the world to stand up and deliver a powerful message to Israel.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is one such non-violent response called for by Palestinian civil society and is modelled on the former successful boycott of Apartheid South Africa.

The aim is to undermine Israel’s economy and to block trade, academic, sporting and cultural ties with Israel in order to force it to comply with international law and uphold Palestinian sovereign rights.

The BDS movement is working. It has compounded Israel’s isolation and cost its economy billions in lost revenue.

Each of us have a moral obligation to boycott Israel and uphold international standards in human rights. The people of Gaza and Palestine deserve no less.

Duncan Shipley-Smith, Byron Friends of Palestine