British Army trains Israeli soldiers to operate drones

 UK urges transfer of Area C to Palestine

 Written questions

Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, for which periods officers in the armed forces have been trained on the operation and use of drone technology in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the last two years.

Mr Mark Francois Answered on: 19 November 2014 In the last two years training on the unarmed HERMES 450 Unmanned Aircraft System has been conducted by Army personnel in Israel on a regular basis. The last training took place in July 2014. This training was a mixture of individual and pre-deployment training for HERMES operators, and technical training for support personnel. Over this period, more than 270 personnel received training by the civilian contractor in Israel. No training has been conducted within the Occupied Palestinian territories.

 

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect on the peace process of differences in how the application of planning regulations apply to settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 17 November 2014 The British Government regularly raises concerns regarding the Israeli building and planning regime in Area C with the Israeli Government. The UK has also called publicly on Israel to take steps towards the transfer of authority over Area C to the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian development in Area C is essential for a sustainable Palestinian economy, yet only 1% of Area C is zoned for Palestinian construction and a large portion of this land is already built-up. The UK will therefore continue to press Israel to ease the current restrictive permitting regime and to transfer control of Area C to the Palestinian Authority as per the Oslo accords. The Israeli Non-Governmental Organisation Peace Now has identified the building and demolition decisions in Area C. Between 2000 and 2007 the Israeli Civil Administration approved only 91 of 1,624 Palestinian applications. During the same period Israeli settlers built over 18,000 homes in the same area. We assess that this does not help efforts towards peace.

Paul Flynn (Newport West) Asked on: 29 August 2014: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate he has made of the number of (a) British citizens, (b) British residents holding dual passports and (c) British residents holding foreign passports who left the UK in 2014 to fight for the (i) Israeli Defence Force in Gaza.

James Brokenshire Answered on: 20 November 2014 We do not hold data on British nationals fighting with the Israeli Defence Force: many foreign nationals (including British nationals) serve in the IDF, and also hold dual (Israeli) nationality.

Mr George Galloway (Bradford West) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Israeli government condemning its (a) closure of the al-Aqsa mosque and other parts of the al-Sharif site in Jerusalem and (b) plan to build 1,000 housing units in illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 11 November 2014 Our Ambassador to Tel Aviv delivered a clear message to the Israeli Cabinet Secretary on 30 October, advocating reopening of the mosque. The mosque re-opened on 31 October for men over 50 and for women. I issued a statement on 29 October condemning the announcement of plans for 1,060 new housing units in East Jerusalem. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have raised this issue with the Israeli National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Political-Military Adviser, senior contacts at the National Security Council and the Cabinet Office.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what support her Department has provided for trained psychosocial counsellors to help children in Gaza.

Mr Desmond Swayne Answered on: 20 November 2014 DFID is funding a range of mental health and psychosocial support initiatives in Gaza, including psychosocial care for 3000 children and 1500 mothers, psychological training for 120 child carers, and psychotherapy for 900 severely traumatised children. The UK is also one of the largest donors to the UN Relief and Works Agency, which is providing psychosocial support and activities for children through its extensive network of schools.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what estimate she has made of the cost of the reconstruction of Gaza.

Mr Desmond Swayne Answered on: 20 November 2014 Assessments led by the Palestinian Authority, and carried out in conjunction with the United Nations and other partners, estimate the total cost of relief, recovery and reconstruction to be around $4 billion.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assistance her Department has provided for British physicians and nurses working on short missions in Gaza.

Mr Desmond Swayne Answered on: 20 November 2014 DFID provided support for an initial medical assessment in Gaza carried out by a team of British medical staff in August, and further support to take forward their recommendation for a small team of British specialists with trauma, orthopaedic and reconstructive skills to make follow-up visits to Gaza. We are also providing support for specialists in orthopaedic trauma, neurology, burns and amputation, drawn from the UK’s International Emergency Trauma Register, to provide highly specialised training, equipment and supervision for rehabilitation in Gaza.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the extent of damage to basic infrastructure and housing in Gaza arising from the recent conflict.

Mr Desmond Swayne The UN has estimated that 18,000 housing units were destroyed or severely damaged in the conflict and that 44,300 other housing units sustained some damage. The UN estimates that 20-30% of the water and sewage network was damaged, and reports extensive damage to the Gaza Power Plant and internal electricity grid, telecommunications and internet infrastructure, as well as factories and commercial buildings.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what emergency aid her Department is providing for Gazans whose homes have been destroyed in the recent conflict.

Mr Desmond Swayne Answered on: 20 November 2014 The UK was one of the biggest donors to Gaza this summer, providing more than £17 million in emergency assistance to deliver lifesaving food, clean water, shelter and medical assistance to tens of thousands of people affected by the fighting. We have also pledged £20 million in early recovery assistance, which includes support for shelter and basic services, short-term employment to help with reconstruction, clearance of explosive remnants of war, and funding for the UN mechanism to import construction materials.

Mr David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support his Department provides to ensure Hamas does not acquire construction materials for terror purposes.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 18 November 2014 The UK, as a donor, follows very carefully the course of internationally provided construction materials into Gaza, and we are confident in the effectiveness of the new UN agreed monitoring mechanism. Imports of construction materials, including concrete, are currently only permitted for UN-led humanitarian projects with strict controls mitigating the risk of transfer of materials for use other than that intended. There remains a clear need for further legitimate construction work in Gaza.

Mr Mark Williams (Ceredigion) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will raise with his Israeli counterpart the death of Bahaa Samir Badir in Beit Liqiya on 16 October 2014.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 18 November 2014 The Government has repeatedly expressed concerns to Israel about the appropriate use of force, including the use of live ammunition, by the Israel Defence Force and Police, as well as the need for Israel to implement the recommendations of the Turkel Commission on improving how the Israeli authorities investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law. We will continue to do so as long as this remains an issue of concern.

Mr Mark Williams (Ceredigion) Asked on: 10 November 2014 To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what reports he has received on attacks by the Israeli Ground Force and Navy on farmers and fishermen in Gaza in October 2014; and if he will raise this matter with his Israeli counterpart.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 18 November 2014 The IDF has demarcated a 6-mile radius at the western nautical border. The demarcation of the northern border is not as clear to fishermen and this border area is the site of many incidents. During Operation Protective Edge, we raised our concern with the IDF several times over incidents in which fishermen were reportedly shot. The IDF maintained that the Israeli Navy fired only warning shots into the air when the fishermen ventured over the nautical border. We have received unconfirmed reports from the British Consulate General in Jerusalem on attacks in October. We have not raised the October incidents with the Israeli authorities, but continue to monitor developments closely.

Dr Matthew Offord (Hendon) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of reports of bomb attacks against Fatah officials in the Gaza strip.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 18 November 2014 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was concerned by reports of bomb attacks targeting Fatah officials in Gaza on 7 November. Investigations have been launched in Gaza into who was responsible.

Mr George Galloway (Bradford West) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Israeli government condemning its (a) closure of the al-Aqsa mosque and other parts of the al-Sharif site in Jerusalem and (b) plan to build 1,000 housing units in illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

Mr Tobias Ellwood Answered on: 11 November 2014 Our Ambassador to Tel Aviv delivered a clear message to the Israeli Cabinet Secretary on 30 October, advocating reopening of the mosque. The mosque re-opened on 31 October for men over 50 and for women. I issued a statement on 29 October condemning the announcement of plans for 1,060 new housing units in East Jerusalem. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have raised this issue with the Israeli National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Political-Military Adviser, senior contacts at the National Security Council and the Cabinet Office.

Baroness Tonge To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the government of Israel concerning its alleged weapons testing, including of dense inert metal explosives, during Operation Protective Edge. [HL2634]

Baroness Anelay (Con): While we have not raised this issue with the Israeli authorities, there must be a robust process of accountability given the heavy civilian death toll in Gaza. Israel has confirmed plans to form their own investigative committee which we understand will be mandated to investigate the proportionality of Israel Defence Forces actions. To be credible, the committee must be independent, transparent and rigorous, and must draw on lessons from the past to examine how Israel can in future exercise its right to self-defence without such heavy civilian loss of life.

 

EDM 521 – MEDICS WORKING IN GAZA DURING AND SINCE OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE IN GAZA

Tabled on 18.11.14 by Jeremy Corbyn MP

That this House applauds the exemplary work of all health professionals in Gaza, be they medics, social workers, occupational therapists, ambulance teams and others who continue to look after the 12,000 injured, including 3,374 children, long after the media have taken their cameras away from the one vantage point permitted them during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge attack on Gaza in August and September 2014; notes the death toll of 2,200 Palestinians, 1,500 civilians including 500 children, and 71 Israelis, five civilians; further notes that many of the injured are now permanently disabled and will require a lifetime of physical and psychological rehabilitation; commends all those who have donated their services to looking after the people of Gaza; deplores in particular the conduct of the Israeli authorities in refusing entry to Gaza of medical personnel from abroad including the indefatigable and determined Norwegian surgeon Dr Mads Gilbert who repeatedly works in Gaza whilst it is under attack, and who is the latest victim of such unjust treatment; and calls on the Government to press the Israeli government to respect international law and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and to lift the siege on Gaza.

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