It’s twenty years since “Shock and Awe” was unleashed on Iraq as the UK shamefully went to war, despite the millions who marched against it. Complicity with the USA saw blood on our hands for the tragedy that unfolded not just in that land but around the globe, and the consequences of which we live with to this day whether refugees, terrorism and an unsafe world. It was not in my name.
Now tragedy unfolds in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands displaced as their homes are pummelled to rubble and told to head south. Only for neither humanitarian aid nor sanctuary to be there as bombing follows them and the slaughter continues. I attended an event last week where the Palestinian Ambassador spoke and footage from Gaza was shown. Not the sanitized version shown on our news channels but the true horror of war against civilians.
The conflict has recommenced with a vengeance and a humanitarian pause has been shown to have been entirely inadequate. Only a ceasefire now can save lives from aerial bombardment from above or the collapse of civil society on the ground. This is likewise not in my name.
But whilst supine calls from the Tory Government and Labour leadership for that humanitarian pause were bad enough, any complicity in the Israeli aggression would cross a line. It’s bad enough that armaments made here are no doubt being used but military aid hasn’t been signed up for by me or even put to Parliament.
A few weeks back I asked about the use of RAF Arkotiri in Cyprus by the US military to supply Israel, I was told such questions were blocked by the MoD? Really, in who’s name. Fortunately, such blocks require renewal after each recess, and I managed to get in before any curfew was renewed. Shamefully, the answer was that they simply refused to comment on actions by allies.
But this is at a RAF base, it’s on our sovereign territory and being carried out without it seems even a by your leave to the Cypriot Government. Do we know what is being done at our base and in our name? I’m sure the MoD must as organisations such as DeclassifiedUK are able to track US military Chinooks making the short hop across the Mediterranean to Israel. What are they doing and what are they carrying? Surely, we have a right to know.
I also asked about military aid to Israel since 7th October and was advised that medical equipment had been requested by the Israeli Defence Force and had been sent including blankets and defibrillators. That’s not humanitarian aid and whilst not troops or munitions, it’s for war not peace. All part of military agreements the UK has with Israel but the full terms of which aren’t disclosed.
Now we’re told that UK intelligence is being used to support Israel in the tracing of hostages. The Hamas attack’s to be condemned unreservedly and thankfully many of the hostages are now being returned. But what are UK forces doing? The Defence Secretary’s recent statement and further parliamentary answers leave much unclarified as to what might be getting done, by whom and who might be getting assisted or receiving intelligence.
It’s a ceasefire not complicity with Israel that’s needed. This isn’t in my name.