Suggested Casework Response: British nationals fighting for the IDF

British nationals have recently travelled to Ukraine fight there, and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office recognised that British nationals fighting for armed forces overseas are liable for crimes they commit whilst fighting there. This principle should be equally applied to all countries, including in the case of Israel. Israel has seemingly been uniquely singled out as a country for which international law does that apply, which should not be the case. For context, FCDO’s official advice on Ukraine can be found below:

“If you travel to Ukraine to fight, or to assist others engaged in the war, your activities may amount to offences under UK legislation and you could be prosecuted on your return to the UK.”

Israel’s war crimes, crimes against humanity and potential genocide since the 7th October do not reflect British values of accountability and upholding the rule of law. British citizens who are complicit in these war crimes by joining the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) should be dealt with according to the principles of international humanitarian law. 

The world was shocked by Israel’s war crimes, crimes against humanity and potential genocide perpetrated since the 7th October. Israel’s attacks have included the systematic targeting of hospitals, bakeries, places of worship and residential areas. Israel has also implemented siege warfare on over 2 million people, by restricting access to food, water, electricity and aid. Israel’s most senior figures have publicly spoken of Palestinian people in subhuman terms. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said ‘we are fighting human animals’ whilst Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu evoked ‘Amalek’ in a remark that was widely criticised for alluding to genocidal intentions.

For there to be any chance of peace and a long-term solution, a rules-based accountability system must be applied equally to Israelis and Palestinians. If the government is committed to a ‘sustainable ceasefire’, as identified by Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, then Israel must be held to the same standards that other countries are held to, and must abide by international law. To achieve this, the government provides clarity on the legality of British citizens fighting in the IDF.


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