Like everyone else I’ve been horrified at the awful scenes of human suffering we have witnessed in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories over the last few weeks. Whatever we think about the rights and wrongs on the long running dispute in the Middle East, there can be no justification, under any circumstances for the deliberate killing of civilians.
It’s a matter of real concern that the UK Government and the Official Opposition have been so reluctant to call out the Israeli government over the humanitarian catastrophe we are now seeing in Gaza. We need an immediate and unconditional ceasefire on all sides and we need a lifting of all blockades that are stopping essential aid getting to the hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings who will die if the aid doesn’t reach them soon.
The massacre of innocent civilians by Hamas and the taking of hostages are war crimes that even the most unwavering supporter of the Palestinian people cannot condone. International Humanitarian Law is also clear that the killing of civilians by deliberate targeting or by indiscriminate bombing is a war crime. So too, are the deliberate blockading of essential supplies such as food or water, or the use or threatened use of violence to force a population to flee. If it’s established that any of these crimes has been committed against the people of Gaza then those responsible must face trial. The crimes committed by Hamas against the Israeli people cannot be used to justify retaliatory crimes against the Palestinian people.
The UK Government has announced the cancellation of most of its flagship “HS2” railway. This was supposed to link London with Leeds and Manchester and we were promised it would bring great benefits to Scotland as well as to the north of England. Instead it won’t get any further than Birmingham, as close to Ireland as it is to Scotland, and the benefits to us will be nil. The cost is likely to be at least £50 billion and even the government’s own figures say about 20 percent of that has been wasted. So the most optimistic guesses are that at least £10 billion has been wasted and many people would question whether the remaining £40 billion was worthwhile. The chances of anyone in the government ever being held to account for this are nil.
Central Fife managed to avoid the worst of Storm Babet but we still saw some flooding and road closures as well as some localised loss of water or gas services. Thank you to everyone from the emergency services, public authorities, utlilities companies and others who worked long hours in atrocious weather to keep us all safe.