Owen Thompson calls for PM to rethink on Gaza

Friday November 3rd 2023

Owen Thompson Midlothian MP

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Midlothian’s MP has demanded the Prime Minister rethink his backing of the war in Gaza branding the conflict potentially “a serious violation of international law”.

Owen Thompson MP called for Rishi Sunak to review his stance over the legality and morality of the deepening conflict. Thompson cited international law which states that deliberate attacks on civilians are a war crime.

He also said that bombing civilian populations could bolster support for terror group Hamas.

Midlothian MP Thompson – who has written to the Prime Minister about the war – said: “The conflict in Gaza is a massive human catastrophe that sees innocent people slaughtered daily.

“Jewish people and Muslim people are suffering. It needs to stop. I am worried by the backing by the Tories and Labour of the ongoing assault on Gaza.

“Israel has every right to defend itself. It has been the victim of a horrific terrorist atrocity. But there is a real issue here about the legality of bombing a civilian population even if a proscribed group is living among civilians. International law is clear that deliberate attacks on civilians are a war crime. The Geneva Conventions states that ‘civilian objects shall not be the object of attack.’

“This principle is also enshrined in customary international law which is binding on all states.

“The problem arises when it is difficult to distinguish between military and civilian targets. This is often the case in urban areas, where military objectives may be located in close proximity to civilian homes, schools, and hospitals.

“In such cases, international law requires that all feasible precautions be taken to avoid civilian casualties. This means that attacks must be limited to those targets that are likely to produce a concrete and direct overall military advantage and that the expected incidental loss of life, injury to civilians, or damage to civilian objects is not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.

“In practice, it is very difficult to meet these requirements. This is because it is often impossible to predict the precise effects of an attack.

“As a result, there is a high risk of civilian casualties. This is why the International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that “the bombing of civilian objects, even if there are military objectives located in their vicinity, will generally constitute a war crime.”

“The bombing of civilian populations is potentially a serious violation of international law. It is also a morally reprehensible act.”

Thompson argued that the UK should be setting an example for other countries by upholding international law and protecting civilians.

He said: “Sunak and Starmer need to reconsider their stance on the bombing of civilian populations.

“The bombing of civilian populations is also counterproductive. It is likely to increase support for the proscribed group and to make the conflict more difficult to resolve.

“The United Kingdom has a long history of respecting international law and was one of the architects of the Geneva Conventions.

“I am concerned their current policy on the bombing of civilian populations is damaging the UK’s reputation even further and undermining a commitment to international law.

“I urged the PM to reconsider this policy and to work with other states to develop a more humane and effective approach to combating terrorism.”

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