On 8th July 2014, Israel launched a series of attacks on the Gaza strip which they entitled ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ The raid was initiated on the claim that HAMAS had kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers, which was later refuted.
The result was a massive loss of life, numbering more than 2,100 Gazans dead according to a UN report, mostly civilians, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and 7 Israeli civilians. 25% of these were children. 11,200 Gazan civilians have been injured.
In terms of Gazan infrastructure, 85,000 homes have been destroyed, 134 factories demolished rendering 30,000 workers redundant, 195 mosques have been either completely or partially destroyed, 146 schools, some of them run by UNRWA, bombed and 14 hospitals bombarded.
A ceasefire was called on 27th August, 2014, ending 7 weeks of fighting.
My stance, along with other Labour MEPs, was that the Israeli response was utterly disproportionate. It also failed to address the root cause of conflict in the area which is the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza through growing Israeli settlements. The only long term solution to this crisis is a two state solution.
I have spoken 4 times in European Parliament on the issue, calling for the end to the violence, to open Gaza’s Borders and for a Palestinian State:
Please see the S&D Motion for Resolution in favour of my speeches in the Joint Motion for Gaza.
I spoken at and participated in a number of demonstrations, including a peace rally with Israeli Peace Activists outside Strasbourg, a rally for Gaza in Rochdale, a Solidarity Campaign rally in Burnley and more.
I have been working front-line alongside other Labour and Social Democratic MEPs to lobby EU leaders into action. During the conflict, we grouped with MEPs of other groupings to sign a joint letter of appeal to urge EU leaders to act immediately:
S & D leader, Gianni Pitella, also wrote a letter to the President of the European Council to call an extraordinary meeting to discuss a strategy for Gaza:
I have promoted and signed a number of petitions, the most prominent one being the Petition to Abort the EU-Israel Trade Association Agreement on Change.org, of which I am a public signatory:
Through my mailing list, I have been circulating petitions, useful information and letters, such as a Letter of Appeal to the Prime Minister, David Cameron.
I drafted and circulated a Letter of Complaint to the BBC about their bias over Gaza in order to prompt people to take action against media propaganda.
I attended a number of events to raise awareness and rally for Gaza. In Brussels, I spoke at an event to remember the Children of Gaza. You can find more info here.
I am delighted that the UK has voted to recognise the Palestinian State with a majority vote of 274 to 12. I have urged remaining EU states to do the same during a Security & Defence conference I spoke at in Rome on 6th November 2014. I believe a two state solution is the only way to break the current Israeli-Palestinian impasse!