What if it was Birmingham?


To all my friends living in my home town: Please consider this. There are around 1.1 million Palestinians living in the north of the Gaza Strip. Israel’s military order that they should leave within 24 hours is like telling the population of Birmingham to leave within 24 hours – including evacuating the Queen Elizabeth, other hospitals and care homes in the city, as well as people’s houses, flats and schools.

The difference is that Palestinians in all of Gaza are already being carpet-bombed and their access to water, food, electricity and medical supplies are being blocked.

And they have nowhere to go.

The Gaza Strip is a coastal area 25 miles long and 7.5 miles wide at its widest point. It is bordered to the east and north by Israel and those borders are closed. If you go to the west from Gaza you are straight into the sea. There is one narrow crossing point to Egypt in the south of the Strip and that has also been bombed by Israel this week. If you get through there you are into desert and the nearest main town is over 30 miles away.

250,000 of Gaza’s residents are families who were made refugees 75 years ago. Many fear that it is happening all over again and they will never be allowed to return to their homes in Gaza. Just like their parents and grandparents were never allowed to return to their homes.

No wonder the United Nations is warning of a humanitarian catastrophe and calling on Israel to rescind its “leave now” order.

The Hamas attack on Israel was a murderous war crime: a crime against humanity. You cannot stop war crimes by committing more of them and what is going on in Gaza is also a war crime.

Shamefully, the UK government is not calling for this to stop. That makes our country complicit in the crime.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, please use whatever medium you have to speak out.

BBC News: Civilians flee northern Gaza as US says it is working with Israel on ‘safe areas’.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.