London, 30 January 2024
The Board of Trustees and Committee on Academic Freedom of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies sent a letter today to members of the British Government, including the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Defence, and Secretary of State for Education, calling upon them to put pressure on Israel to ensure the immediate end of the indiscriminate targeting and systematic destruction of the Palestinian education system in the Gaza Strip, and to stop government and corporate British arms sales to the Israeli military until the International Court of Justice issues its final ruling on whether Israel is committing genocide.
In the letter, BRISMES documents in detail the systematic indiscriminate targeting of the Palestinian education system, claiming that it is a war crime and a crime against humanity, as defined by the 1998 Rome Statute, and appears to be an integral part of the broader pattern of elimination emphasized in South Africa’s application to the International Court of Justice. In light of the destruction of the education system in the Gaza Strip, the professional association would have expected that the British government, and particularly the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education, to publicly condemn Israel’s indiscriminate targeting of universities and schools, underscoring the horrific long term effects this destruction will have on Palestinian society. BRISMES further request that the UK government:
- Suspend all military export licenses with Israel until the ICJ has issued a final ruling on South Africa’s application.
- Reverse the decision to suspend aid to UNRWA schools and commit crucial aid to assist in the rebuilding of the education system in Gaza.
- Initiate a series of measures for both the immediate reconstruction and long-term rebuilding of the higher education and research sector in Gaza.