BASW & SWU statement on situation in Israel and Palestine/Gaza
Further to our joint statement released on 27 October 2023, BASW and the Social Workers Union (SWU) want to further comment and call for more government and international action on the terrible escalation of violence and military action by the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza following the Hamas terrorist atrocity against Israeli civilians on October 7th. Over 1200 Israelis were killed and over 200 people taken hostage by Hamas on that day the vast majority of which remain captive.
Since that time, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people have suffered and continue to suffer continuing military attacks in Gaza by Israeli forces. This is causing indiscriminate harm to Palestinian civilians with no access to safe sanctuary.
The number of Palestinians killed in Gaza has reached over 11000 and is rising. A vast number of those killed have been children. Civilians have been killed indiscriminately in bombing of residential areas and public spaces and facilities.
The military offensive is also causing mass destruction of Gazan infrastructure and homes and the humanitarian crisis is worsening. Healthcare facilities are under attack and have run out of most essential supplies, and energy has been largely cut off.
BASW and SWU promote human rights and social justice ethics in social work in the UK and internationally. Through our statements we are adding our voice in speaking out on behalf of the profession, for the protection and rights of all innocent victims in this escalating conflict, for compliance with international law and for a political path to peace to be pursued for all Palestinians and Israelis. We believe there is no military solution to the decades-long conflict and human rights issues in Palestine and Israel.
The international political community, including our own UK governments and political parties, have a moral and political responsibility to do much more. We call on UK and international governments to press for an immediate ceasefire between the Israeli military and Hamas and to seek a political way forward that can promote the equal human and social rights of the Palestinian and Israeli populations. All efforts should be put into creating a durable solution for all in the region.
BASW is an active member of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and we support their statement in response to the situation, which can be viewed here. SWU is an active member of the General Federation of Trades Unions, which has also made a statement on the situation from its own perspective, available to read here. Together we will continue to work within respective bodies to advocate for social work’s voice in this situation. Our thoughts are with all social work colleagues in the region.
BASW & SWU shared our statement calling for a ceasefire with the UK Government and the UK Labour Party. We received a response on 17 November 2023 from the Foreign Office to our correspondence which is available to download on the link below.
Responding to the letter, SWU General Secretary, John McGowan said:
"SWU disagrees with the premise this response is built upon – that a ceasefire "would only allow Hamas to entrench itself in Gaza and launch further attacks". Isn’t anything short of calling for a ceasefire condoning the continued bombing of Gaza which includes a “brutal targeting of civilians"? Which our joint letter explicitly said “there is no justification for”.