UK government lawyers reportedly conclude Israel violated humanitarian law – media

British authorities, however, have apparently opted to keep the findings out of the public domain

Lawyers for the UK government have established Israel has been breaking humanitarian law amid its ongoing conflict in Gaza with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, a senior Tory is claiming, according to leaked audio revealed by the Observer newspaper on Saturday.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Alicia Kearns, made the remarks earlier this month during a Conservative Party fundraising event. “The Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law but the government has not announced it,” Kearns, a former official with the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence, who has been pressing the government on the matter, said during the event.

The legal experts’ assessment effectively makes the UK complicit in the Israeli military’s violations, and defense cooperation should have been severed by London immediately after they produced their evaluation of the situation in Gaza.

“They have not said it, they haven’t stopped arms exports. They have done a few very small sanctions on Israeli settlers and everyone internationally agrees that settlers are illegal, that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and the ways in which they have continued and the money that’s been put in,” Kearns stated.

During the event, Kearns insisted that she, like the UK Foreign Secretary James Cameron, strongly believes in Israel’s right to “self defense,” noting however that there were legal boundaries for exercising it.

“The right to self defense has a limit in law. It is not limitless,” she explained, warning that Israel’s approach to handling the escalation may end up putting its own – and Britain’s – long-term security at risk.

The authenticity of the recordings obtained by the Observer appears beyond question, given that Kearns has been rather vocal about her position on the matter. On Saturday, she produced similar remarks as well, once again urging the government to make public its legal assessment of the Israeli actions.

“I remain convinced the government has completed its updated assessment on whether Israel is demonstrating a commitment to international humanitarian law, and that it has concluded that Israel is not demonstrating this commitment, which is the legal determination it has to make,” she stated, arguing that “transparency” was absolutely needed to “uphold the international rules-based order.”

Israel launched the operation in Gaza following an incursion by Hamas militants into the southern part of the country last October. During the attack, over 1,200 people were killed and scores of hostages were taken into Gaza. The Israeli campaign inflicted heavy damage on the Palestinian enclave, causing widespread destruction and leaving at least 32,000 people dead, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.