A petition to the UK parliament calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be arrested for war crimes when he arrives for a state visit later this month has gained nearly 100,000 signatures.
The e-petition had 91,426 signatures on Tuesday. However, despite nearly reaching the 100,000 target that would allow it to be considered for debate in parliament, the UK government has ruled out arresting Netanyahu when he arrives in London.
In its response to the call for his arrest over the deaths of Palestinians during Israel’s Gaza offensive last year, the government said: “Under UK and international law, certain holders of high-ranking office in a state, including heads of state, heads of government and ministers for foreign affairs are entitled to immunity, which includes inviolability and complete immunity from criminal jurisdiction.”
Damian Moran, a software designer from Manchester, northwest England, told Anadolu Agency he launched the petition on Aug. 7 because “I have had enough”.
The petition calls for Netanyahu to be arrested under international law over the “massacre of over 2,000 civilians in 2014.”
Moran, 38, said: “I never really understood the Palestine conflict until about 10 years ago when I did some actual research on it and was horrified by what I found. I could empathize greatly with Palestinians with all the horrors they faced.”
He added that Netanyahu “destroyed over 50 mosques, two churches and a center for the disabled. The most despicable acts where attacks committed against seven different UN shelters for people fleeing the conflict.”
In July last year, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza. More than 2,160 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed and some 11,000 injured before a cease-fire was signed in August.
Moran said he did not expect Netanyahu to be arrested.
“With the current Prime Minister [David] Cameron, who supported South African apartheid and supports the current apartheid in Israel, it wouldn’t happen but it sends a clear message that he [Netanyahu] is not welcome in the UK and that we haven’t forgotten,” he said.
The petition is supported by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Stop the War Coalition and Friends of Al Aqsa.
Anti-Israel protests are expected during Netahyahu’s visit. His meeting with Cameron is to reportedly focus on the Iran nuclear deal and the Israel-Palestine peace process.