PEACE IS THE PRIORITY
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