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Letters / Open letter to SIC councillors: please support the motion for a ceasefire in Gaza

Dear Shetland Islands Council

I am collecting various signatures for a petition, stating that we, local constituents, continue to be concerned about the situation in Israel/Palestine, Gaza, and into the West Bank. Without an immediate bilateral ceasefire, the humanitarian crisis faced by the displaced population of Gaza will continue exponentially.

Israeli civilians are now targeting and blocking aid trucks from entering Gaza in protests within Israel (1). Humanitarian Aid must be protected and increased. Hospitals and medical facilities in Gaza are no longer able to function fully, those that remain have had to stop providing some services (2) and medicine, such as children’s insulin (3), is being blocked at the checkpoints into Gaza (4). Between October 7 and January 8, at least 162 healthcare workers were killed in Gaza, and over 600 attacks on medical facilities in Gaza and the West Bank were reported (26).

This crisis is disproportionately targeting children, who make up almost 50 per cent of the population of Gaza (5), women, as it is estimated that one mother is killed every two hours (6), and the disabled and chronically ill, who are now displaced, unable to access routine treatments (7) and for those in the north, were told to walk the approximate 25 miles away from their homes to Rafah, which was impossible for many disabled individuals (8). Rafah was originally designated by the IDF as a “safe zone” (9) although was still targeted by air (10), and now a ground invasion is expected as imminent (11). President Biden is now calling the response of the Israeli Government in Gaza “over the top” (12).

Our petition is simple – please support the motion for ceasefire brought by councillors Armitage and Scott at the Council meeting of 22nd February 2024.

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At the time of drafting this letter, the death toll in Gaza is over 28,000 (13) or otherwise, exceeding the entire population of shetland. At least 67,000 have been injured in Gaza (14).

We believe that all in our power should be done to prevent escalating the humanitarian cost of this crisis. Following the interim ruling from the International Court of Justice, it may be the case that with continued support & arms dealing to the IDF, the UK and UK companies may be complicit in war crimes (15) and acts of a potentially genocidal nature (16).

It is important that we do not facilitate these acts by turning a blind eye to them or pretending that we are unaware they are happening. Over 85 journalists have been killed in Gaza (17) and other journalists, such as Motaz Azaiza have left Gaza in fear of their lives (18). With the provision of donated ESims, despite enforced electronic blackouts as communications towers and power stations are deliberately targeted by the IDF (19), people continue to upload their experience to the internet (20).

In essence, this crisis has been live-streamed, and the horrifying reality of life in Gaza is available 24/7 to us so far away. Often, these individuals speak in English rather than their native language of Arabic. They film their experience for us, in the West. They want us to use our influence to say enough is enough. We cannot say years in the future that we did not know, that the people of Palestine did not do enough to show us. We cannot be complicit.

Above all, we should consider the innocent civilians of Gaza, such as six-year-old Hind Rajab. After an IDF tank targeted & killed all of the family members Hind was travelling in a car with, she contacted the Red Crescent on a mobile phone belonging to her 15-year-old cousin Layan and asked to be rescued (21). She was injured and mentioned wounds on her leg and her hand.

The Red Crescent support worker tried to comfort her on the phone. Hind said “please come and take me, please, I am scared. Come quick” (22) Two Palestinian Red Crescent health workers were sent to rescue her. The Red Crescent worked with the IDF to gain clearance to the location of the young girl and yet the ambulance was destroyed catastrophically just meters away from the car she was in (23) All three were confirmed dead on Saturday 11 February after 12 days of non-contact (24). The telephone conversations between Hind and the Red Crescent, and an earlier conversation between her cousin Layan and the Red Crescent have been published and are available online. They are both harrowing. Hind’s mother was interviewed after the bodies of her family were recovered and she said “I told the world on the very first day, go and get Hind, and two weeks she has been in that car… I swear I will tell God on the day of judgement about my daughter, I swear I will never forgive you… the world has failed us” (25)

Hind is only one example of the over 12,000 children killed in Gaza since October 7, her mother just one example of the thousands of grieving families.

This unspeakable trauma of war will only continue to harm children, and may create the perfect environment for further radicalisation and anger. Continuing the cycle will only bring strife and does nothing for a peaceful resolution. Continuing to attack civilian infrastructure, healthcare and cultural landmarks will only further the trauma in Gaza. An immediate end to the military action is needed now.

The digital petition is available for signature by Shetland residents here.

Leanne Goodlad
Lead Petitioner


Sources

(1) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/02/10/gaza-aid-blockade-protest-kerem-shalom/

(2) https://www.who.int/news/item/24-01-2024-who-and-partners-bring-fuel-to-al-shifa–as-remaining-hospitals-in-gaza-face-growing-threats

(3) https://english.palinfo.com/news/2024/01/25/313357/

(4) https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/limiting-or-prohibiting-medications-reaching-injured-and-ill-people-death-sentence-and-form-genocide-enar#:~:text=Euro%2DMed%20Monitor%20strongly%20denounced,genocide%2C%20aimed%20at%20causing%20severe

(5) https://www.npr.org/2023/10/19/1206479861/israel-gaza-hamas-children-population-war-palestinians

(6) https://www.npr.org/2023/10/19/1206479861/israel-gaza-hamas-children-population-war-palestinians

(7) https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/11/01/gaza-israeli-attacks-blockade-devastating-people-disabilities

(8) https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2023/10/27/people-with-disabilities-not-spared-from-israels-war-machine-on-gaza-strip

(9 & 10) https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-09/israel-begins-bombing-rafah-a-previously-declared-safe-zone/103446304

(11) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-68266335.amp

(12) https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/biden-says-gaza-fighting-over-top-pushing-pause-2024-02-09/

(13 & 14) https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/gaza-death-toll-climbs-28064-palestinians-killed-67611-injured-since-oct-7-gaza-2024-02-10/

(15) https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/12/12/selling-weapons-israel-could-make-uk-complicit-war-crimes

(16) https://www.hrw.org/legacy/wr2k4/download/13.pdf

(17) https://cpj.org/2024/02/journalist-casualties-in-the-israel-gaza-conflict/amp/

(18) https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/26/palestinian-journalist-motaz-azaiza-leaves-gaza-qatar

(19) https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/27/israel-intensifies-gaza-assault-and-severs-communications-across-territory

(20) https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2023/dec/17/esim-cards-internet-gaza-palestinians

(21) https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2024/02/06/middleeast/israel-gaza-hind-missing-girl-prcs-intl-hnk/index.html

(22) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-68180642

(23 & 24) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-68261286.amp

(25) https://youtu.be/ZeHIJyBpNHA?si=SS_bisbzN11OVqEA

(26) https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/humanitarian-crisis-unveiled-healthcare-under-attack-gaza-joint-statement-syrian-american-medical-society-sams-and-palestinian-american-medical-society-pama

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