During this time of renewed violence in the Middle East, we are deeply saddened at the loss of life in the region. Our faith unequivocally condemns the targeting of innocent civilians. Our grief moves us to reaffirm our hope for a future where all life is considered precious, and people everywhere are able to enjoy freedom and dignity.

We urge leaders to work towards developing a pathway to peace. We cannot understand what is happening in the region today without acknowledging Israel’s 75-year oppression of the Palestinians – including a 16-year-long air, sea, and land military blockade. Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has persistently violated international law, with the Gaza Strip being described as “the world’s largest open-air prison”.

In February 2022, Amnesty International said of Israel that it: “..imposes a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians across all areas under its control: in Israel and the OPT, and against Palestinian refugees, to benefit Jewish Israelis. This amounts to apartheid as prohibited in international law.”

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, has also reported: “Palestinians living everywhere Israeli apartheid reigns – the Gaza Strip, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and within the Green Line – are being subjected to an almost unprecedented scale of killings, destruction, violence and intimidation.”

On Monday, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza, halting the supply of electricity, food, water and fuel to the region – an act which would violate Article 33 of the Geneva Convention. 80% of those who live in Gaza are dependent on humanitarian aid, and 50% of those who live there are children. These measures will lead to unprecedented loss and suffering of innocent Palestinian lives. It is illegal under international law to impose collective punishment on a people.

Recognising the historic role of the UK in the region, our government has a responsibility to facilitate lasting peace. We call on this government, the Leader of the Opposition and our Members of Parliament, Sarah Owen and Rachel Hopkins, to advocate for an immediate cease-fire and an end to the occupation. There must be a clear acknowledgment and condemnation of the persistent violations of international law.