“In #Gaza we have lost sight of the most basic principles of humanity and proportionality.”

Orkney will again join citizens across Scotland and the whole of the UK on Saturday 18th November in calling for an immediate ceasefire in the bombardment of Gaza. The Orkney vigil will take place between 1 and 2pm on the steps of St Magnus Cathedral.

People lined up with banners and flags

On 15th of November SNP MPs in the House of Commons tabled an amendment to the King’s Speech :

The MPS voted 125 in favour of this amendment and 293 against, therefore, it failed.

The MPs who supported the amendment were from across political parties: Alba (2), Alliance (1), Green (1), Independent (7), Labour (56), LibDem(15), Plaid Cymru (3), SNP (38), Social Democratic & Labour Party (2). Tellers (2) SNP

The MPs who voted against the amendment were: Conservative (288), Democratic Unionist Party (4), Independent (2) Tellers (2) Conservative

The MPs who did not record a vote were as follows: Conservative (57), Democratic Unionist Party (4), Deputy Speaker (4), Independent (9), Labour (141), SNP (3), Sinn Féin (7), Speaker (1), The Reclaim Party (1).

The Chair of the International Development Committee wrote to the UK’s new Foreign Secretary David Cameron, on 16th of November following “harrowing” evidence in Parliament from groups operating on the front line in Gaza: UNRWA, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Medical Aid for Palestinians and Human Rights Watch.

All four organisations were unanimous that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is worsening “not just by the days or weeks, but by the hours and minutes.” The letter pays tribute to all the aid organisations working around the clock in Gaza to try to provide vital humanitarian assistance. To date, 102 UNRWA staff have lost their lives, the highest number of UN fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict.

The Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP, said:

“In Gaza we have lost sight of the most basic principles of humanity and proportionality. The first priority must be to immediately get aid and fuel into Gaza and we need the conditions for that right now.”

UN human rights chief Volker Türk on Thursday welcomed the Security Council call for pauses in the fighting in Gaza where “doctors operate on screaming children without anaesthetic, using mobile phones for light”.

“There must also be a ceasefire based on humanitarian and human rights grounds. There needs to be an end to the fighting, not only to deliver the urgently needed basic necessities of life, electricity, water, fuel and so forth, but also to create the political space for a path out of this horror.”

The Security Council passed a resolution Wednesday urging the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and for extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the enclave.

Mr. Türk stressed that attacks directed at “hospitals, schools, markets and bakeries” as well as collective punishment “in the case of Israel’s blockade and siege imposed on Gaza” are prohibited under international humanitarian law.

So too is “aiming indiscriminate projectiles into southern Israel” by Palestinian armed groups, hostage-taking and the “use of civilians to shield locations from military operations”. 

“I am on the side of every civilian, Palestinian or Israeli, who is harmed, or who lives in fear,” he said.

Lack of fuel is jeopardizing “the entire architecture of the humanitarian response” in Gaza, where raw sewage is now flowing in the streets, the head of the UN agency that assists Palestine refugees, UNRWA, said.

 Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini reiterated calls for a ceasefire and addressed misinformation targeting the agency, including claims that aid is being diverted.

He repeated his earlier warning that UNRWA is running out of fuel, thus putting lifesaving support to 2.2 million in Gaza at risk. Everything from aid delivery, to water supply, to even accessing cash from ATM machines will be impacted. 

“We will not be able to uphold our commitment to provide for the Palestinian people any longer,” he said. “I do believe there is a deliberate attempt to strangle our operation and paralyse the UNRWA operation.”

Thousands of people have fled northern Gaza for the south, arriving “dehydrated, hungry, exhausted and shell-shocked.” 

UNRWA schools are now hosting more than 800,000 people amid dire conditions and lack of food, water and adequate sanitation. More than 30 per cent of people in shelters are already exhibiting skin illnesses.

He stressed that “there is nowhere safe in Gaza”, including UN compounds.

“Up to 60 of them have been hit since the beginning of the conflict. We had more than 60 people now killed. We had hundreds of people injured,” he said.  At least 103 staff now confirmed killed although the number could be higher. He described these colleagues as UN civil servants dedicated to serving the community who “had absolutely nothing to do with the conflict per se.”

Fiona Grahame

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