Gaza War: Rafah Attack

Members' Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:30 am on 28 May 2024.

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Photo of Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance 10:30, 28 May 2024

I add my voice to the international community's condemnation of the murder and maiming of innocent civilians in Rafah over the past few days. The Israeli Government's pursuit of a so-called total victory in Rafah is nothing more than an attempt to annihilate the Palestinian people and everything that they hold dear. Babies, children and the elderly — all innocent, defenceless and, no doubt, extremely scared — are being caught up in the Israeli Defence Force's deadly pursuit of Hamas.

My colleague Kate Nicholl recently held a meeting in Parliament Buildings with members of the Palestinian community who live here, and I know that some Members who are in the Chamber also attended. Among the delegation was a man named Zac, who had got out of Palestine just eight days previously. He told us of the trauma that his family had to experience: first, in being displaced from their family home; and, secondly, through being moved time and time again and, on foot, having to carry children for miles from one refugee camp to another. In the camps, resources are so scarce that electricity supplies have been cut off, and even access to water is extremely limited, so, amid the fear and sadness, people seeking shelter also face starvation and acute dehydration. For the Israelis to use their prized precision munitions to target those people is beyond barbaric. Even the Palestinian Red Crescent said that the air strike on Sunday evening had targeted tents for displaced people in an area that is supposed to be a safe zone. How very tragic. It is clear that the Israeli Government are defying the International Court of Justice, which recently ordered an immediate halt to their military offensive in the Rafah area.

The UK Government must continue to exert whatever pressure they can on the Israeli Government and convince them that a path must be created towards Palestinian statehood. A meaningful ceasefire must be agreed and the exchange of hostages secured without any further delay. There is no other way forward for the Middle East.