A Statement from the Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee in Edinburgh
On November 21st, the Scottish Parliament voted to support international calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza with a majority of 90 to 28. As a collective of civil society organisations in Scotland, we welcome this decision as a vital and necessary first step, particularly in light of the UK Government’s utter failure to pass a similar motion. However, it must be stated that while an immediate ceasefire is absolutely crucial for alleviating the suffering of Gaza, it is not enough.
Palestine is now witnessing its deadliest period of ethnic cleansing since 1948, with an estimated 16,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank killed by Israeli forces in under 50 days. At least 6,150 of these are children. On top of this, thousands remain missing under the rubble in Gaza, meaning the actual death toll is likely upwards of 20,000. Since October 7th, 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza have been forcibly displaced by Israel’s onslaught, while Israeli settlers have depopulated 16 villages in the West Bank, echoing the mass expulsion of Palestinians in the Nakba. Over 278,000 residential units have been destroyed or damaged in Gaza, constituting more than half of all homes in the Strip. Additionally, Israel has rendered 26 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals nonfunctional, through both deliberate airstrikes and the strangulation of electricity and medical supplies. Israel has also bombed hundreds of other civilian targets, including schools, clinics, mosques, churches, press buildings, and UN facilities. All this amounts to nothing less than a strategic genocidal project at the hands of the Zionist state.
Given these ongoing atrocities, a ceasefire is the bare minimum of our political and moral responsibilities. Israel has plainly articulated its goal to completely erase Gaza—its people, culture, heritage, and history. Gaza’s civil infrastructure is now totally devastated, and Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed their intentions for a new status quo with brazen statements such as ‘the territory of Gaza will also decrease’ (Eli Cohen, Foreign Affairs Minister) and ‘Gaza will never go back to what it was’ (Yoav Gallant, Defense Minister). Life will not simply return to ‘normal’ after a ceasefire. Even if it does, a return to ‘normal’ would mean a continuation of Israel’s brutal siege, under which Gazans have already suffered for more than 16 years.
A ceasefire without subsequent action will allow the Zionist state to continue its regime of ethnic cleansing and settler colonialism in Palestine. As auxiliaries of a liberation movement, we refuse to settle for such complacency. The global struggle for Palestinian freedom has reached a critical point; we must use this momentum to call not just for a ceasefire, but for a permanent dismantling of Israeli apartheid and the siege of Gaza. We are witnessing a systematic genocide, and its perpetrators and their war criminal accomplices must not be allowed to continue with impunity. Thus, the Scottish Parliament’s motion for an immediate ceasefire must be bolstered by concrete action to interrupt these atrocities.
As such, the Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee (Edinburgh) issues the following demands beyond an immediate ceasefire:
We demand a comprehensive UK embargo on arms to and from Israel.
According to Campaign Against the Arms Trade, 19 companies with 43 locations in Scotland have exported military goods to Israel within the last ten years. The most prominent of these firms include BAE Systems, Leonardo, Thales, Raytheon, and Lockheed-Martin. Several of these locations are manufacturing plants that produce weaponry components destined for Israel, such as Leonardo in Edinburgh and Thales in Govan. As of 2021, Scottish Enterprise—the Scottish Government's business agency—dispensed nearly £10 million in grant funding to these firms. We demand an immediate end to all Scottish governmental support for these arms companies. We also demand that the Scottish Government exert pressure on the UK Government for a comprehensive trade embargo on arms, arms components, and military technology to and from Israel.
We demand an end to Scottish public funding for companies complicit in Israeli apartheid.
Through contracts and business grants, the Scottish Government invests millions of pounds of public funds (our taxes) in companies which profit from Israel’s campaign of ethnic cleansing, including the previously mentioned arms manufacturers. Regional governments in Scotland also remain complicit in their finances: the Lothian Pension Fund alone invests more than £164 million in Lockheed-Martin, Albemarle Corp., Caterpillar, and Siemens AG, all firms which profit from Israeli occupation. We demand that all national and local Scottish governments divest public funds from such companies.
We demand economic and political sanctions on Israel.
Alongside public divestments from complicit companies, the Scottish Government must impose sanctions on the Israeli state, and put pressure on the UK Government to follow suit. In particular, we demand an immediate halt to all trade between Scotland and Israel which sustains illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including (but not limited to) the sanctioning of the 112 companies identified by the United Nations Human Rights Council as complicit. We also call on the Scottish Government to follow the example of countries like South Africa and Bolivia by suspending any existing diplomatic relations between Scotland and the Israeli state, while also pushing for such suspensions within the UK Government.
We continue to align with global demands for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. However, we recognize that this can only be a temporary recourse. Ultimately, a ceasefire cannot eliminate the root of Palestinian suffering: Israel’s ongoing project of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. We envision a unified, liberated, and democratic future across the whole of historic Palestine, where citizens can live freely and equally regardless of ethnic or religious background. Yet this vision remains impossible while the Zionist regime continues its brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people. We call on the Scottish Government to reject its current complicity by implementing our demands, thereby making tangible steps towards a free Palestine. Furthermore, we call on the Scottish public and civil society to join our movement and demand that our government make more substantial efforts to challenge Israel’s crimes. In the prescient words of Martin Luther King Jr., “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” Without deliberate action towards justice, talk of peace rings empty. It is for this reason that we refuse to settle for a ceasefire alone, and instead push beyond it—Onward to the total liberation of Palestine!