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By David Halpin
David Halpin takes to task British Foreign Secretary David Miliband for refusing visas to a team of Palestinian footballers due to play a series of matches in England, a refusal which stands in marked contrast to the welcome given to the Israeli national team.

To: David Miliband MP, Secretary of State, Foreign Foreign & Commonwealth, United Kingdom

Copy: Richard Younger-Ross, MP for Teignbridge

Dear Mr Miliband,

Three thousand and one hundred miles by sea from where I write in Devon there is a "Warsaw" ghetto in Gaza. There are other ghettos in the ineptly name West Bank and in the Arab states about. There are three times as many people imprisoned within Gaza as there were in the ghetto constructed by the Third Reich. That existed between 1941 and 1943. The Gaza ghetto and those others filled with Palestinians, were populated by the 80 per cent of the Palestinian people who were driven by terror and force of arms from there homes, their land and thus their living in 1948. In all 750,000 men, women and children were driven north, east, south and some into the sea in boats.

These ghettos have existed now for 59 years. In quieter times, some people could come and go but the torment these people suffer has increased steadily in these last years. This account is contemporary.


I have got to know Gaza and its people since sailing there in a cargo vessel I chartered in February 2003 to call attention to the indescribable suffering of Palestinians and the need in law and humanity to solve it – quickly. I was also speaking against the violence and unlawfulness of the war your government was starting and which brought hell to earth in Iraq. There has not been systematic killing by the Israeli “warders” who contain the weeping populations with the fourth largest and the most advanced army in this tortured world. The many killings and severe injuries, like paraplegias, are more sporadic but they mount steadily. Many thousands have been injured severely and there have been four times as many homicides of Palestinians than Israelis since the start of the first intifada. In recent months the homicide ratio has been about 50:1 Palestinian to Israeli.


As you will know, “law enforcement” in the Warsaw ghetto was maintained by the Jewish police – by Jews drafted in from other countries to do the Germans’ dirty work. This is a common colonial strategy. They were hated by those many thousands of starving Jews who were suffering typhoid and other infectious disease and who were doomed to go to Treblinka. About eight weeks ago, the Hamas government got rid of their “Jewish police”; they now reside in Ramallah. These quislings to the Palestinian cause are being feted by your administration and many others as directed by Israel and America. The media have emphasized the violent overthrow of Abbas, Dahlan, Fayyad, Erekat, etc. but there has been little coverage of the violence and chaos they were causing as they collaborated with the occupier.


You are probably ignorant of a good deal of the facts in the remnants of Palestine, but that is not a personal criticism. They are complex and layered, and senior government ministers seldom see the reality. I could brief you for several days on the poisoned water in Gaza, the iron deficiency anaemia seen in a third of all children and women, the failure to get spares and standard solutions for medical equipment, the standards of medical care caused by isolation, etc.  


The following was written 100 years ago and it has been ignored in every year since:


No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible. - Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); 18 October 1907, Article 50


The reasons for refusing these young footballers their visas appear specious. Instead, it seems to be about maintaining the suffocating siege of the ghetto and in making certain that no hint is given that “Palestine” might be a nation.


Please give these young men a break; they deserve one. Cease collective punishment.


For truth, reason and justice,
David Halpin FRCS