We are calling for an immediate ceasefire to end the ongoing suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank and to advance a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We also call for Hamas to release all hostages and to stop targeting civilians. Indiscriminate strikes that kill or injure civilians constitute war crimes (Amnesty International 2023), and this holds true for both Hamas and Israel.
We unequivocally condemn the Hamas attack on innocent Israeli civilians, on 7th October 2023, and mourn the loss of Israeli life. However this atrocity did not happen in a vacuum but following a decades-long oppression of Palestinians.
We apologise for our delay in speaking publicly against the occupation of Palestine and the unjust killing of Palestinians. Unpacking the quick-developing reality in Gaza, the media storm, and its history has been a learning journey for our team. UKYCC has been engaging with this issue throughout the period in an internal process of discussion and learning, taking our commitment as a consensus-based organisation seriously. We are working to do better off the back of our unacceptable delay in speaking out and are having internal discussions to enable this change, the outcomes of which we will share publicly and transparently.
We do not wish to participate in the silence, as this would only serve to weaken the much-needed solidarity that Palestinians deserve. UKYCC believe in a just, fair, safe future and we wholly believe in the power of systemic change, environmental justice, and peace. This is a vital and urgent time to mobilise support and solidarity in the climate justice movement - we have shown how strong our collective voice is, so we will use this power to see an end to this unjustifiable genocide, apartheid and occupation.
The UK Government must urgently use its influence and power to call for an immediate ceasefire and halt the genocide of Palestinians. The UK Government must also stop licenses for the sale of British weapons capable of being used in Israel’s action in Gaza. Daily, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening as violence escalates, therefore it is immensely challenging for sufficient aid to reach people in Gaza.
Only by identifying the systems of oppression that have led to this suffering, can we then build the solidarity to counter it and end it. Therefore, UKYCC stand firmly in solidarity with Palestine and all who suffer under the Israeli occupation in Palestine.
This is not just a climate justice issue but also a racial, social, and economic justice issue
There is no climate justice without human rights for all. The brutal Israeli occupation in Palestine is a climate, racial, social, and economic justice issue. For Palestinians, climate justice is intricately tied to their liberation struggle. Palestinians have little to no capability of establishing sustainable communities with climate resilience, amid the continued forced upheaval and migration - continued bombardment and systemic injustices limit access to land, natural resources and water.
As Israel prepares to expand it's fossil fuels exports into the European market, Both BP and Eni energy have been awarded licenses by the occupation forces, effectively fuelling continued conflict and control over Gaza's resources. This highlights how our over dependence on fossil fuels will only worsen such geopolitical conflict, like we have seen so many times before.
Historical Context: Colonialism and the UK's Ignorant Complicity
The link between conflict and climate justice is rooted deeply in colonialism and its impacts are longstanding.
The history of Israel and Palestine is complex but we must focus on the British involvement in the creation of the state of Israel, which played a part in these decades of conflict and bloodshed. The UK Government has continued to support Israel and refuses to call for a ceasefire. We are appalled by their lack of humanity and their refusal to represent the true interests of the British public that wish for peace in Gaza. The UK Government must stand on the right side of history and in solidarity with the demands of millions who call for an immediate ceasefire.
It is not extreme to expose Genocide, Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing
We call for an end to the genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and the occupation of Palestine. These are not radical or extreme ways to describe the current conditions, or their historical context; we understand this conflict to be an entirely radical, extreme and unjust situation.
'Genocide' is defined by the UN as a "crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part". The Israeli Government is committing genocide: 15,200 people, including 4,800 children, have lost their lives in Gaza the Israeli bombardment since 7th October (BBC 2023), which is due to rise if action to mobilise a ceasefire continues to stall.
Under the Apartheid Convention, 'Apartheid' is defined as "inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them". Since the State of Israel was established in 1948, successive governments have created and maintained laws, policies, and practices designed to oppress and dominate Palestinians (Amnesty International), which generates social divisions and harmful, systemic injustices. Individuals have built their lives despite these systems, but this is the sixth major war since 2005 - today's young people have had their lives dictated by conflict.
Historically, these injustices have been prevalent: In 1948, 750 000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and lands; and in 1967, 350 000 Palestinians were displaced when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Patterns of 'ethnic cleansing' feature heavily in this history, and which is defined as "the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another" (Oxford Languages). As we understand it, ethnic cleansing describes the overt misuse of authority and immense prejudices that are used to permit repeated forced displacement, which has led to further conflict and environmental injustice.
Since Israel started its military offensive on October 7th in the wake of the Hamas attack, over 1.5 million people in Gaza have been displaced, and this number continues to rise.
Call it what it is: Antisemitism and Islamophobia
It is important not to conflate the views and actions of Hamas with the Palestinian people and also not to conflate the views and actions of the Israeli government with Jewish people. Both communities are grieving and there is rising Antisemitism and Islamophobia in the wake of the violence.
Anti-Zionism is not the same as Antisemitism. Zionism is a political movement for a Jewish nation in Palestine. The actions of the Israeli state are rooted in racist Zionist ideology and Israel does not represent the views of all Jews. Jewish people all over the world have shown solidarity with Palestinians and Zionists have targeted both Jewish and Muslim people for speaking out against this violence.
UKYCC is committed to calling out Antisemitism and Islamophobia, and call on the climate justice community to respond equally.
Resources: Uplift voices on the ground sharing the truth
Widespread misinformation in the media, and bias from news outlets, increase during media frenzies around sudden events. We have seen increased censorship and shadow-banning (actively reducing the reach of content) of Pro-Palestinian content on the world's largest social media platforms, which serve as critical communication tools within Gaza and for the rest of the world. We want to see supportive actions and real stories on the occupation of Palestine and the conflict, by lifting up voices from groups on the ground:
Linked here is a public Palestinian Liberation Resource to support learning and understanding of the historical and political background, and contains up to date news.
Actions to take in the UK and abroad
There are numerous ways to take action and show support for Palestinians:
Direct: Attend a march, fundraiser, or take other direct action
Write: Send a letter to your MP/MSP, condemning escalation and demanding peace. Create and sign petitions for peace.
Boycott, Divest and Sanction: Support the movement to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.
Education: Learn about the history, terms and concepts we've described above and use this to raise awareness. Spread the message on social media by reposting and speaking out about these issues in your networks.
More actionable ways to support Palestine (online document).
Thank you for reading our statement. If you have queries or would like to contact us, please do not hesitate to do so - firstname.lastname@example.org