Remember Srebrenica


Middle East Eye is reporting that Israel intends to set up checkpoints around Rafah to separate Palestinian men “of military age” from their families.

Apparently the idea is to allow women and children to leave ahead of Israel’s assault, leaving the men trapped in the city.

According to one former senior military advisor to the US State Department, “Israel considers every male a Hamas fighter until proven otherwise.”

It brings back haunting memories about what happened in Srebrenica in 1995. After visiting Bosnia in 2016 I wrote this piece in the New Statesman about how the Srebrenica massacre unfolded and about the warnings it carried for future generations.

The international community knew what was going on in Bosnia in the 1990s and we still let it happen. It developed into the worst mass crime on European soil since World War Two. It was genocide.

In my 2016 New Statesman article I asked if the international community was guilty of similar indifference as we witnessed the Assad regime mercilessly razing the town of Aleppo to the ground with appalling civilian casualties.

So what about today? After more than six months of carnage in Gaza, Israel is threatening a full-scale attack on Rafah where well over a million people are sheltering in appalling conditions. Already, the International Court of Justice has ruled that there is a plausible case that what Israel is doing in Gaza can be defined as genocide.

This is why the thousands of gravestones I saw in Srebrenica once again pose a stark question for world leaders today. If you merely call for restraint while continuing to supply Israel with arms, and you refuse to do anything in practice to stop the carnage, at what point do you become complicit in war crime yourselves?

Ceasefire now.

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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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