Israel Hamas war: UK must not be complicit with Benjamin Netanyahu's government – Kenny MacAskill
It’s 20 years since “shock and awe” was unleashed on Iraq as the UK shamefully went to war, despite the millions who marched against it. Complicity with the USA saw blood on our hands for the tragedy that unfolded, not just in that land but worldwide, and the consequences we live with to this day – refugees, terrorism and an unsafe world. It was not in my name.
Now tragedy unfolds in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands displaced as their homes are pummeled to rubble and told to head south, only for neither humanitarian aid nor sanctuary to be found there as the bombings and slaughter continues. I attended an event last week where the Palestinian ambassador spoke and footage from Gaza was shown, and not the sanitised version shown on our news channels but the true horror of war against civilians.
The conflict has recommenced with a vengeance, the humanitarian pause shown to have been entirely inadequate. Only a ceasefire now can save lives from aerial bombardment from above or the collapse of civil society on the ground. This is likewise not in my name.
But whilst supine calls from the Tory government and Labour leadership for that humanitarian pause were bad enough, any complicity in the Israeli aggression would cross a line. It’s bad enough that armaments made here are no doubt being used but military aid hasn’t been signed up for by me or even put to parliament.
A few weeks back, I asked about the use of RAF Arkotiri in Cyprus by the US military to supply Israel. I was told such questions were blocked by the Ministry of Defence. Really, in who’s name? Fortunately, such blocks require renewal after each recess, and I managed to get in before it was renewed. Shamefully, the answer was that they simply refused to comment on actions by allies.
But this is an RAF base, it’s on our sovereign territory and being carried out without, it seems, even a ‘by your leave’ to the Cypriot government. Do we know what is being done at our base and in our name? I’m sure the MoD must know, as organisations like DeclassifiedUK are able to track US military Chinooks making the short hop across the Mediterranean to Israel. What are they doing, what are they carrying? Surely, we have a right to know.
I also asked about military aid to Israel since October 7 and was advised that medical equipment had been requested by the Israeli Defence Force and had been sent, along with blankets and defibrillators. Whilst not troops or munitions, that’s not humanitarian aid, it’s for war, not peace. All part of military agreements the UK has with Israel, the full terms of which aren’t disclosed.
Now we’re told that UK intelligence is being used to support Israel in the tracing of hostages. The Hamas attack is to be condemned unreservedly and, thankfully, many of the hostages have been returned. But what are UK forces doing? The Defence Secretary’s recent statement and further parliamentary answers leave much unclarified as to what is being done, by whom and who might be getting assistance or receiving intelligence. It’s a ceasefire, not complicity with Israel, that’s needed. This isn’t in my name.
Kenny MacAskill is Alba party MP for East Lothian
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