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ICJP asks UK for clarification on Britons going to fight in Israel

November 3, 2023 at 5:32 pm

British Army soldiers. [Flickr/US Army Europe]

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has written to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to request urgent clarification on the UK government’s position on Britons going to fight in Israel and Gaza, the organisation said in a press release yesterday.

According to media reports, since 7 October, hundreds, and potentially thousands of British citizens have left the UK to fight for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Israel’s war on Gaza. “Many of these Brits may already be complicit in potential war crimes and crimes against humanity, and could face future prosecution should these matters go to trial,” the letter stated.

Earlier this month, Israel called up  360,000 army reservists from all over the world to join its war on Gaza. “In the UK, the media was awash with stories of British Israelis leaving to join the IDF… Some may be there through the Mahal Programme, a volunteer programme which allows non-Israeli nationals to serve in the IDF in full combat and support roles for up to 18 months,” the ICJP explained.

The independent organisation of lawyers said it had asked “the government to clarify its position on the legality of British citizens going to fight in Israel or Gaza, noting the difference with its policy on Ukraine. The Government has made it clear that British citizens should not travel to fight in Ukraine, and those who do could be committing a criminal offence.”

READ: UK must probe Brits committing war crimes in Gaza as part of Israel army

“It is unclear to us whether British citizens going to fight in Israel or Gaza would face similar sanctions,” it added.

They noted that officers from the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism unit had attended the homes in the UK of Palestinians who are currently in Gaza, including the family of Professor Ghassan Abu Sitta, a renowned emergency surgeon who is currently treating the civilian victims of Israel’s ongoing bombing campaign in Gaza.”

ICJP has asked the government to clarify as a matter of urgency whether the police have been instructed to only visit the families of British Palestinians currently in Gaza, or whether the same rules apply to Brits who have left the country to fight for the Israeli armed forces.”

Calling for accountability to be upheld with respect to Israel and Gaza, the ICJP said: “Had Israel not been afforded decades of impunity by the international community, the horrific and devastating situation in Gaza could have been avoided.”