Gaza killings bring the West to a crossroads

Since Israel launched its retaliation against Hamas’s brutal atrocities nearly six months ago, Western governments have grown increasingly concerned over the supply of aid to the people of Gaza.

The UK, EU and, in particular, the US have continued to exert pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition government to allow more humanitarian aid into the region amid fears of a deepening humanitarian disaster.

Until this week, such calls had gone largely unheeded, with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) arguing that allowing more aid into Gaza would be to run the risk of supplying their enemies.

The tragic killing of seven aid workers, including three British Armed Forces veterans, at the hands of the IDF has brought the issue of aid and the handling of the war itself into sharp focus.

UK government lawyers are believed to be examining whether Israel may have breached international humanitarian law by failing to allow unrestricted aid to enter Gaza.

If this is deemed to be the case, then the Government will have little option but to suspend exports of arms to Israel, due to concerns that it would place the UK itself at risk of being in breach of international law.

Such a decision will make little difference to the outcome of the war, as UK exports make up a fraction of Israel’s imports of arms, but it would send a political message to the rest of the world.

This week’s tragedies mark a crossroads for the war in the Middle East.

Israel, the UK and the rest of the West each face big decisions that none can afford to get wrong.


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