UK complaint alleges politicians’ complicity in Israeli ‘war crimes’

UK police say they are assessing the claims made by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians.

DEIR AL BALAH, GAZA - MAY 22: Relatives of the Palestinians who lost their lives in Israeli attacks on ez-Zawahide neighborhood, mourn as the bodies are brought to morgue of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on May 22, 2024. At least 10 Palestinians were killed in the attack ( Ashraf Amra - Anadolu Agency )
Relatives of the Palestinians who lost their lives in Israeli attacks mourn as the bodies are brought to morgue of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir el-Balah [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu]

London, United Kingdom – A new criminal complaint has been submitted to the Metropolitan Police alleging potential British government officials’ complicity in aiding and abetting the intentional starvation of Palestinians.

It supplements an existing complaint issued in January by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), arguing that UK politicians are criminally liable for their involvement in alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

The new complaint, submitted by the ICJP on May 17, names 22 individuals, including five senior UK government ministers.

The ICJP, an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians, has handed over a 60-page complaint along with a further 800 pages of evidence collected from 19 medical professionals who have worked in Gaza since October 7, 2023.

It is one of the most comprehensive complaints submitted to date to Scotland Yard in relation to Israel’s plausible genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, which has so far killed more than 35,000 Palestinians.

Israel’s latest and deadliest war on the Strip began after the Palestinian group Hamas, which governs Gaza, attacked southern Israel. The Hamas-led assault dramatically escalated the historic Israel-Palestine conflict; 1,139 people were killed during the attacks and dozens taken captive.

‘Wilfully causing great suffering’

The complaint argues that five British government ministers are complicit in alleged Israeli war crimes by aiding and abetting, through military support and moral encouragement.

The names of the politicians in the complaint are being kept confidential in order to allow the Metropolitan Police space to review the evidence. The complaint also implicates Israeli politicians and military, as well as private British citizens who are fighting for the Israeli military.

The latest complaint says Israel is “wilfully causing great suffering” and using “starvation as a weapon of war”.

Both are war crimes under UK legislation and international law, including under the Rome Statute and Geneva Conventions.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police told Al Jazeera that the criminal complaint is being assessed by specialist officers as part of a scoping exercise to determine whether any further action or formal investigation will be carried out.

If the force decides to open a formal criminal investigation, alleged perpetrators could be arrested and prosecuted.

The ICJP complaint includes extensive evidence with harrowing details of how Israel’s blockade of Gaza and delays in allowing medicine, fuel, food and water into the Strip has resulted in appalling harm and suffering.

One doctor reported that up to 90 percent of patients were very thin and many appeared emaciated, while another raised cases of babies so malnourished they did not have the energy to cry.

Many doctors reported severe shortages of pain-reducing medicine, such as morphine and ketamine, used to treat injured patients and during surgery.

One 11-year-old girl with unsurvivable burns all over her body was left without pain medication in her final moments because of shortages. In another case, there was no pain medicine to help a seven-year-old child with explosive-related injuries, leaving the doctor to sing to the child as the only means of comfort.

Tayab Ali, director of the ICJP and head of international law at Bindmans LLP, said: “Complicity comes in many forms, whether that be providing political cover, encouraging criminal acts or supplying weapons.”

“We intend to ensure that allegations of war crimes against suspected Israeli war criminals and those who enable them are prosecuted, whether that be at the ICC, in the UK or across the globe,” he added.

The UK government has been a staunch supporter of Israel following the October 7 Hamas attack, from supplying arms to voicing support. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says Israel has the right to defend its security, but he has also called for a humanitarian pause to allow aid into Gaza.

When asked to comment on the ICJP criminal complaint, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said in a statement: “As the Foreign Secretary says, Israel has committed to act within IHL [international humanitarian law] and has the ability to do so, but we are also deeply concerned about the impact on the civilian population in Gaza. We carefully review advice about Israel’s capability and commitment to IHL, and act in accordance with that advice.”

Source: Al Jazeera