PEACE IS THE PRI­OR­ITY

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

The leader in your pa­per “Char­i­ta­ble Gaza” (July 18)) rightly de­scribes al­le­vi­at­ing the suf­fer­ing of the Pales­tinian peo­ple as a “wor­thy aim” but then asks why Bri­tish char­i­ties are not build­ing bomb shel­ters for the res­i­dents of Gaza.

Our mem­bers, Is­lamic Relief, Mus­lim Aid and Hu­man Ap­peal In­ter­na­tional, all work in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries and in several other ar­eas of con­flict in the Mid­dle East, Africa and Asia. In none of these places would a bomb shel­ter of­fer much hope of pro­tec­tion in the event of the sud­den bom­bard­ment of a civil­ian area.

We are not aware of any lead­ing aid agency that builds bomb shel­ters or would con­sider fund­ing them to be a high pri­or­ity in sit­u­a­tions where peo­ple of­ten lack the ba­sics of food, clean water, health-care and sus­tain­able liveli­hoods. Un­der in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law it is not the duty of aid agen­cies but of state gov­ern­ments to play the prin­ci­pal role in pro­tect­ing civil­ians.

We strongly sup­port the call by aid agen­cies to agree to a cease­fire and durable so­lu­tion to en­sure the pro­tec­tion of civil­ians on both sides. Peace with jus­tice is the best guar­an­tee of pro­tec­tion and pros­per­ity for all civil­ian pop­u­la­tions in the Mid­dle East. Dr Hany El-Banna OBE Chair­man, Mus­lim Char­i­ties Fo­rum West­gate Road, Lon­don W5

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