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Palestine Ambassador to UK calls to end Israel’s ‘war of vengeance, a war of rage’

January 16, 2024 at 9:10 pm

Husam S. Zomlot, Head of the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom, addresses hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters attending a rally outside Downing Street in London, United Kingdom on 25 November 2023 [Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images]

The Palestinian Mission in Britain convened a press conference in London today on the latest developments in Gaza, marking 100 days of Israel’s deadly bombardment of the besieged enclave since 7 October. Ambassador Husam Zomlot briefed journalists on the current conditions in Gaza and the West Bank, offered his perspective on the monumental South African-led legal case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the UK bill granting Israel special protection from boycotts.

Zomlot described the sheer human devastation in Gaza, with over 85,000 Palestinians killed or injured in what he labelled “Israel’s war of choice” – equivalent to around 850 casualties daily, mostly vulnerable women and children. The staggering figure, he noted gloomily, fails to capture the uncounted dead buried under rubble.

The material damage to Gaza has been “comprehensive” said Zomlot, listing civilian infrastructure targeted by Israel. 70 per cent of Gaza’s homes, along with hospitals, schools, universities, UN facilities, offices, shops, water treatment plants, mosques and churches have been systematically razed to the ground, he said, erasing fundamental infrastructure for basic survival, much less dignified life.

The clear picture portrayed is one of societal collapse “deliberately” orchestrated through what Zomlot branded “a war of vengeance, a war of rage”, obliterating neighbourhoods and lifelines vital for sustaining families and communities. According to the Ambassador, this is the plan Israel began with, 100 days ago – a plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.

READ: Braving Israel attacks for over 100 days, Gaza children bear the brunt

“Never again” will Palestinians allow another forced displacement from their ancestral home said Zomlot. There must not be another mass displacement of Palestinians, he added, referring to the 1948 Nakba when 70 per cent of the native population was subjected to ethnic cleansing. “We shall not see that again.”

The Ambassador accused Israel of systematically using “starvation as a weapon of war” to render Gaza unliveable – creating mass hunger, infectious disease and lack of medical care that guarantees further preventable deaths. He argued that the comprehensive destruction of the Gaza Strip reflected intentional ethnic cleansing and genocidal aims by Israeli premiers craving vengeance and political survival.

With Gaza uninhabitable and economically suffocated, Zomlot insisted that immediate ceasefires and massive reconstruction represented the only hopes for ending the massacre. He chided global inaction in calling for a ceasefire, compelling South Africa’s unprecedented ICJ case accusing Israel of genocide.

The ICJ case initiated by South Africa represents the first meaningful international effort towards accountability and restoring Palestinian rights which have been denied for decades, said Zomlot, arguing that Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza is the result of decades of complete impunity enjoyed by the apartheid state.

The Ambassador fielded questions from MEMO journalists and others on governing Gaza after Israel ends its military operation, the role of Hamas and UK and Western policy. Questioned on Hamas’s role, Zomlot called them “a Palestinian matter”, needing eventual integration into the umbrella group, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), as part of a broader two-state solution framework. He rejected the idea that the basic rights of Palestinians can be conditioned on “good behaviour”.

The Palestinian people are the only nation whose basic rights are conditioned on their behaviour, argued Zomlot, insisting that it is a dehumanising and illegal approach which breeds a cycle of violence. He relayed ambitious plans to establish a sovereign Palestine as the only path towards peace.

Outlining his vision for resolving the conflict, Zomlot first declared the need to “enforce” and “implement” global consensus and international law – which, for decades, have been ignored by Israel and its allies. Stating that “there is no dispute here” on foundational issues related to international law and global consensus – he asserted that the State of Palestine stands ready for establishment as accepted for decades, based on 1967 borders and Gaza’s inclusion.

READ: Gaza combat surges anew as Israel tanks storm back into areas they left

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