UK parliamentary committee raises alarm over 'savagery' in Gaza

UK parliamentary committee raises alarm over 'savagery' in Gaza
During a visit to the Egyptian city of Al-Arish, a cross-party group of MPs heard accounts of the war from medical workers who have been operating in Gaza.
3 min read
22 February, 2024
In a statement published on Wednesday the parliamentary group called for an immediate end to the violence in Gaza [GETTY]

A UK parliamentary committee says civilians in Gaza are facing "savagery" and demanded an "immediate end to the violence" following a visit to the area by MPs.

The comments come as lawmakers furiously debated the UK's stance on Israel’s war on Gaza with a call for an immediate ceasefire passing a vote in parliament on Wednesday night, amid chaotic scenes.

The International Development Committee, which scrutinises the work and spending of the UK’s overseas development agency, said it has been left shocked after hearing about the horrors of the war while on a visit to the Egyptian port city of Al Arish in the Sinai desert.

The parliamentary group, formed of 11 cross-party MPs, heard testimonies from humanitarians and medical workers who had recently been working in Gaza.

Al-Arish has become a holding point for aid supplies entering the Palestinian territory, as well as housing a large hospital to support injured Palestinians. The city is the first point of call for dual nationals and officials entering and exiting through the Rafah crossing.

In a statement published on Wednesday the parliamentary group’s chair, Labour MP Sarah Champion said: "Nothing that has been reported braces you for the true scale of the horror in Gaza."

"Listening to seasoned humanitarians tell us that what they’ve witnessed in Gaza makes it the worst disaster they've ever seen really brought home the savagery befalling civilians," the MP said.

"Aid workers repeatedly questioned why international law wasn’t being followed or upheld in relation to civilians, humanitarians and medics."

The lawmakers heard about the prevailing lawlessness that has overtaken Gaza and is threatening the safety of civilians and hindering aid delivery.

Champion said she feared that "unless something happens to stabilise the situation, the remaining UN support will withdraw leaving Palestinians utterly alone".

"Politicians around the world need to demand an immediate end to the violence, full access for aid and a long term strategy to rebuild Gaza; both its infrastructure and its society."

Since the outbreak of war in October, the UK government and official opposition have repeatedly argued that Israel has a 'right to defend itself' and maintained arms sales to the country.  However, amid a rising death toll of over 29,000 Palestinians, lawmakers have come under pressure from the public to call for a ceasefire.

On Wednesday evening, the House of Commons was embroiled in chaos after a motion to vote for a ceasefire, proposed by the Scottish National Party, was taken over by an amendment put forward by Labour that removed mention of Israel's "collective punishment" of Palestinians.