Starvation War Crimes Complaint against UK Ministers submitted to Scotland Yard expanding suspects list to 5 senior British ministers

Detailed 800 pages of direct evidence provided to Scotland Yard War Crimes Team on intentional starvation of Palestinians and ‘wilfully causing great suffering’

Annex: Summary of evidence provided at end of press release.

London, 17th May 2024- Today, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has submitted a complaint to Scotland Yard’s War Crimes Team. The complaint addresses the crimes of ‘starvation as a weapon of war’ and ‘wilfully causing great suffering to a civilian population’, both illegal under British and international law. It expands an existing complaint issued by the ICJP in January 2024, which is still being actively considered by Scotland Yard.

The detailed complaint was prepared by ICJP, a London-based legal group, on behalf of Palestinian victims in Gaza. It addresses Israel’s suspected use of ‘starvation as a method of warfare’ and for ‘wilfully causing great suffering’ to Palestinians during its war on Gaza.

Both ‘wilfully causing suffering’ and ‘starvation as a weapon of war’ are war crimes under UK and international law, under the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court Act 2001. Using starvation as a weapon of war also violates the Geneva Convention. 

The complaint builds on an initial complaint submitted to Scotland Yard on 12th January 2024, which named four British government ministers for alleged complicity and criminal responsibility in Israeli war crimes. This latest submission reiterates their alleged complicity, but also includes a fifth senior government minister as an alleged perpetrator of these crimes. 

The alleged criminal acts are prosecutable in the United Kingdom and will now be considered by Scotland Yard’s War Crimes Investigation Team before a decision is made by them whether to open a formal criminal investigation, which could see alleged perpetrators questioned, arrested and prosecuted.

The complaint is one of the most comprehensive complaints submitted to date to Scotland Yard in relation to Israel’s plausible risk of genocide in Gaza. The 60-page complaint has been annexed with a further 800 pages of evidence, collected from first hand eyewitnesses, expert reports and expert evidence from nineteen medical professionals who have worked in Gaza since October. The evidence was collected by ICJP’s investigation and legal teams, which include former British police detectives, who collected the evidence to British police force standards.

ICJP Director Tayab Ali said:

“Complicity comes in many forms, whether that be providing political cover, encouraging criminal acts, supplying weapons or as in the case of starvation withholding funds from agencies that provide life sustaining humanitarian aid”.

We intend to ensure that allegations of war crimes against suspected Israeli war criminals and those who enable them are prosecuted, whether that be at the ICC, in the UK or across the globe. We will ensure that there will be no place for suspected war criminals to hide, especially not the UK.

We are confident about our ability to hold war criminals to account here in the UK and across the globe. We have compiled and submitted high-quality eyewitness and expert evidence, drafted to the highest criminal legal standards. Now it’s in the hands of those who can deliver the accountability we so desperately need to see”. 


Notes to Editors:

1.    The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law. 

2.    ICJP’s October 2023 notices of intention to prosecute UK politicians can be found here and here.

3.    ICJP’s press release regarding its 12th January 2024 Scotland Yard submission can be read here.

4.    For more information, to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, or to obtain photographs and footage of the event, please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected].

ANNEX: Evidence Summary

The evidence collected by ICJP, and submitted today with the complaint, includes harrowing details of how Israel’s action to block and delay access to medicine, medical equipment, fuel, food, water and other humanitarian necessities into Gaza has resulted in unspeakable harm, suffering and further injuries to civilians.  These details were received to ICJP from witnesses who observed the impact of these crimes first hand and who provided countless examples of the suffering caused by the crimes alleged.  

By way of illustration, the evidence received to ICJP from 19 doctors, including British doctors, who volunteered their time in hospitals throughout Gaza since 7 October 2023, documented the following examples of suffering as a result of the blockade and delay to supplies: 

  • Nearly all doctors who provided evidence detailed the situation of malnourishment and starvation among civilians encountered in the hospitals – patients, relatives and civilians sheltering in the medical facilities.  Details were provided of medical signs of malnourishment and dehydration, and how as a result patients were at higher risk of infection and unsuccessful recovery and healing when malnourished. Cases were observed of acute kidney failure from dehydration, and blood pressure and diabetes problems linked to nutritional deficiencies. One doctor reported that up to 90% of patients were very thin, with many appearing emaciated, and another raised cases of babies so malnourished they did not have the energy to cry.
  • Doctors described how the shortage of several supplies made the situation of infections in the hospital unpreventable, with astronomical rates of infection and otherwise preventable deaths.  This included shortages on antibiotics necessary for prevent infection and assist healing, shortage on sterile equipment, gauze and bandages, such that some single use items needed to be reused, shortages on cleaning supplies and clean water, and shortages on food resulting in malnourishment which hindered patients’ ability to heal and fight infect.  The culmination of these competing shortages created a situation where infection was unavoidable.  As an example of this impact, several doctors reported not closing wounds or incisions after surgery because this enabled cleaning the wound more easily than reopening it once infected.  
  • Many reported severe shortages to pain medicines, such as Morphine and Ketamine, used to treat injured patients and during surgery.  The evidence includes one example of an 11-year-old girl with un-survivable burns all over her body who was left without pain medication in her final moments because of shortages. Further evidence details another case where there was no pain medical available in a hospital to help a 7-year-old child with explosive related injuries, leaving the doctor resorting to singing to the child as an only means of comfort.
  • Doctors reported preventable deaths caused by lack of medicine for chronic conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and hypertension. 
  • The lack of medical equipment and test impacted medical results, with one doctor details how these shortages would mean often not being able to save patients’ limbs.
  • Evidence detailed how pregnant woman had to undergo C-sections without adequate anaesthetic medicine and were left with inadequate follow care for their C-sections due to lack of medications, sterile supplies, nutrition needs and staff shortages.
  • Another doctor explained how the only paediatric cancer treatment centre in Gaza was destroyed, and how many children diagnosed with cancer were unable to gain approval to seek treatment outside Gaza and therefore left without treatment.
  • Cuts to electrical supply and power in the hospital, led to doctors having to perform medical treatments using the torch on their phone. 
  • Doctors gave evidence of extremely high rates of severe injuries to civilians from explosives, burns, shrapnel and gunshot wounds such that there were not enough operating theatres to meet the high demand of patients requiring surgery.  Evidence from one doctor spoke to the case of a one-year-old boy with an arm and leg blown off from explosives, but how there was no operating theatre available to treat him due to other more pressing cases.
  • Doctors spoke of severe staff shortages at the hospitals ranging from medical assistants to medical specialists, and caused by internal displacement in Gaza, targeting of medical professionals, severe burnout and trauma of medical staff, and the inability of medical staff to enter or reach the hospital due to roadblocks, bombardments or shooting near the hospital. One doctor gave the example of a young man with a bullet wound in his lungs and bowel who had a successful surgery but died in the ICU afterwards due to staff shortages making aftercare impossible.
  • One doctor gave evidence on the impact on mental health, detailing how there was very limited treatment available to assist the significant prevalence of extreme fear, anxiety, depression and panic attacks observed among the civilian population due to the constant threat of death and from displacement.