AS I write this, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is discussing South Africa’s submission that it believes Israel is responsible for genocide in Palestine.

Hamas, a terrorist organisation, murdered more than 1000 people and abducted 250 hostages to Gaza. Since then, Israel has conducted indiscriminate bombing campaigns across Palestine, murdering an estimated 25,900 people (mainly women and children).

It should not be difficult to condemn the horrific attacks by Hamas, but equally it should not be difficult to understand that Hamas is not Palestine, nor is it all Palestinians.

The disproportionate response from Israel can be seen by the rest of the world. The SNP remain steadfast in the opinion that a ceasefire by all parties is the only way to gain safety and security for Palestinians and Israeli citizens. For there to be any lasting peace, Palestine must be recognised as a state.

The UN Human Rights Office has already raised concerns about the conduct of Israel, particularly due to the pattern of attacks on civilian infrastructure. My colleague, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, has worked in Gaza for years and, even anecdotally, it is heartbreaking to see the pictures her surviving friends are sending her of hospitals and schools flattened by Israeli attacks.

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There are 350,000 people in Gaza suffering from infections. There are 46,000 who are injured and cannot be treated. Procedures are being carried out without anaesthetic. Gaza’s health system has been reduced to just a third of its pre-conflict capacity. There are 52,000 pregnant women stuck in a war zone with no access to healthcare.

Military operations merely result in innocent men, women and children paying the price for crimes they did not commit.

If Israel seriously wants to dismantle any grasp Hamas has on Palestine, they must stop killing innocent Palestinians in the name of justice. Anything else only serves to fuel radicalisation.

The court’s ruling on the specific charge of genocide will take years to finalise, however, in the meantime, it has concluded that Israel must take all measures to prevent genocidal acts and must take measures to ensure humanitarian access. This is only possible if there is a ceasefire. Despite growing pressure internationally, the UK has fallen short of calling for that ceasefire.

Just this week, Stephen Flynn spoke of an ITV News report on footage from Gaza of an unarmed Palestinian man walking under a white flag being shot and killed by the Israel Defence Forces. He asked the Prime Minister to confirm that such an act constitutes a war crime. Despite knowing this is undoubtedly a war crime, the Prime Minister refused to say it.

The National: Rishi Sunak

The ICJ cannot force Israel to abide by and enforce its ruling, meaning Israel can in theory just ignore it. The precarious nature of international politics means that the responsibility on countries like the US and the UK cannot be overstated. If Israel will not listen to the ICJ, maybe it will listen to the allies providing funding.

Both Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak have failed to rise to the occasion. They have both failed to call for a much-needed ceasefire. Humanitarian organisations are clear that aid is not – and cannot – reach those in need while Israel continues to indiscriminately attack.

In Gaza, an estimated 1.8 million people – or almost 80% of the population – have been internally displaced, with many currently sheltering in UNRWA shelters. The World Health Organisation estimates that in these shelters, 160 people share each toilet and 700 share a single shower on average. A further 191,000 internally displaced people are sheltering in schools and hospitals. More than 130 UN members of staff have been killed in Gaza since October 7, 2023.

This cannot continue.

Westminster cannot turn a blind eye to the deaths of thousands of children and civilians. There must be an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, Israeli hostages must be released – and inspectors must be allowed into Gaza to investigate war crimes. The Prime Minister must come before the House of Commons outlining what action he intends to take, as a key ally of Israel, to safeguard civilian lives.