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This morning, the second Friday of Ramadan, Israeli forces attacked unarmed worshipers at Al Aqsa Mosque, injuring dozens. In the 24 hours preceding this Israeli forces killed 5 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank. This took the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2022 to more than 40. Israel has also been conducting large-scale arrests in raids across the occupied West Bank, and has issued demolition orders on Palestinian homes as a form of collective punishment. The Israeli government has justified its actions as a response to the killings of Israeli civilians by Palestinians in recent weeks, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowing “no limitations” on Israel’s response.

The real context of what the mainstream media is describing as an ‘escalation of violence and conflict’ is Israel employing severe violence to enforce an illegal occupation and a wider system of oppression. Leading human rights organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem have rightly described this system as meeting the legal definition of the crime of apartheid. Such a system of oppression can only be sustained via the use of violence.

Political leaders in the UK have chosen to remain silent about Israel’s actions, mirroring a familiar pattern when violence will be denounced only when Palestinians kill Israelis, or when Palestinians are killed in their hundreds, as happens during Israel’s periodic bombardments of Gaza. Moreover, while political leaders have been forthright in implementing sanctions to address Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and commission of war crimes, no action is taken to hold Israel to account for its continuing violations of international law. The UK government approved over £400 million worth of military technology and arms exports to Israel between 2015-2020 – including armoured vehicles, tanks, ammunition, and small arms, including sniper rifles. All equipment that Israel requires to maintain and further its violent oppression of Palestinians.We call upon the UK government and other political leaders to be consistent in condemning violations of human rights and the commission of war crimes, no matter against whom they are enacted. We call on the UK to end its 2-way arms trade with Israel until it ends its oppression of the Palestinian people.