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Middle East: Armed Conflict

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports the Government have received in respect of (a) military activity at al-Quads hospital in Gaza on 15 January 2009, (b) the use of white phosphorous shells during the attack by Israeli forces on (i) al-Quads hospital and (ii) al-Wafa hospital and (c) the use made of the site of (A) the el-Bader flour mill and (B) the Atta Abu Jubbah cement packaging plant in the Gaza Strip prior to their targeting by Israeli forces during January 2009. (306677)

There have been various reports conducted into the Gaza conflict, some by human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. However, these specific issues are covered in the Government of Israel's July 2009 report “The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects” and the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza Report.

Copies of these reports can be found at:

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Hamas+war+against+Israel/Operation_in_Gaza-Factual_and_Legal_Aspects.htm

and

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been clear from the beginning of the Gaza conflict that all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law committed by anyone during the conflict should be properly investigated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received on the directions given to civilians in Gaza by Palestinian armed groups in respect of going to or remaining at sites targeted for attack under Operation Cast Lead. (306679)

There have been various reports conducted into the Gaza conflict, some by human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. However, the specific issue of directions given to civilians in Gaza by Palestinian armed groups is documented in the Government of Israel’s July 2009 report “The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects” (paragraphs 186 to 189) and the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza Report.

Copies of these reports can be found at:

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Hamas+war+against+Israel/Operation_in_Gaza-Factual_and_Legal_Aspects.htm

and

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/l2session/A-HRC-12-48 .pdf

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been clear from the beginning of the Gaza conflict that all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law committed by anyone during the conflict should be properly investigated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received on the use of (a) hospital facilities and (b) ambulances by (i) the authorities in Gaza and (ii) Palestinian armed groups during Operation Cast Lead. (306680)

There have been various reports conducted into the Gaza conflict, some by human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. However, the specific allegations of misuse of medical facilities and ambulances is documented in the Government of Israel’s July 2009 report “The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects” (pp64-67, paragraphs 171 to 180) and the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza Report (page 117).

Copies of these reports can be found at:

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Hamas+war+against+Israel/Operation_in_Gaza-Factual_and_Legal_Aspects.htm

and

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

The Foreign Secretary has been clear from the beginning of the Gaza conflict that all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law committed by anyone during the conflict should be properly investigated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on (a) the number of incidents in which Israeli military forces have fired on Gazan (i) farmers and (ii) fishermen in each of the last four quarters and (b) the resultant injuries. (306776)

According to the UN in 2009 (to November) one fisherman has been killed, 24 fishermen and six farmers have been injured as a result of warning shots fired by Israeli forces.

The UK recognises Israel's right to defend itself but calls upon the Israeli Government to act with restraint and in accordance with international law.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on Israeli naval restrictions on Gazan fishermen. (306784)

Israeli restrictions on Gaza, including those on Gazan fisherman, continue to have a detrimental effect on the Gazan economy. We are clear in our call for Israel to relax its restrictions on Gaza.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Prime Minister has received a response to his joint letter of 16 October 2009 with President Sarkozy to his Israeli counterpart on the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission to Gaza; and whether the Israeli Government has taken any of the actions requested in the letter. (306798)

The joint letter was the culmination of substantive discussions between my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, President Sarkozy and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu ahead of an important vote in the Human Rights Council on the serious issues raised by the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza report. Ministers have followed-up with further discussions, notably my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary with his Israeli counterpart on 25 November 2009 and the Secretary of State for International Development with Defence Minister Barak on 1 December 2009.

On 25 November 2009, the Israeli Government announced a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank. The Foreign Secretary made clear in a statement that same day that we want this announcement by Israel to become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations to achieve the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security, based on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, and a fair settlement for refugees.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the role of the Iranian Qods force in terrorist activity in the Middle East; and if he will make a statement. (307117)

The Qods Force (QF) is a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Force (IRGC). We have previously expressed concern that the IRGC and the IRGC-QF are involved in training, equipping and supplying, to varying degrees, Iraqi armed militia groups, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian Rejectionist Groups. This further undermines international confidence in the Iranian regime's intentions, and is at odds with the regime’s claims to the international community and its own people to want to work for stability, security and prosperity.