BASW & SWU statement on the situation in Israel and Palestine/Gaza

SWU & BASW Statement

Updated on 3 May 2024

This is an update on prior joint statements from BASW and SWU:

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and Social Workers Union (SWU) abhor the ongoing military violence in Gaza and deepening humanitarian and health crisis. 

BASW and SWU are in solidarity with the Palestinian civilians living in the midst of current extreme military assault by Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza and suffering other attacks in the West Bank and other areas in the region. We support their struggle for statehood, justice and long-term peace which has been ongoing for the past 75 years.

The UK government has so far opted not to exercise its leadership role to prevent human rights violations, bloodshed, and what the International Court of Justice has ruled plausible genocide in Gaza. As social workers we must uphold our values of human rights and social justice for all, and our Code of Ethics that underpins our practice.

We call on the UK government to:

  • work for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza 
  • urge for the opening of multiple land border crossings into Gaza to allow for delivery of aid and  unimpeded safe passage for delivery of aid to all areas, and resumption of funding to Gaza’s largest UN agency UNRWA1
  • call for displaced Palestinians to be allowed to return to their homes and remaining Israeli hostages to be released
  • intensify international diplomatic efforts towards a long-term solution for Palestinian statehood and security for all in the whole region
  • stop arming the war on Gaza
  • introduce a visa scheme for Palestinians trapped in Gaza who have family in the UK
  • join international efforts to ensure compliance with international law 

Israeli Defence Forces have killed more than 34,000 people, mostly women and children, over the past seven months. More than 77,000 are reported injured while health facilities have been decimated. It has created appalling living conditions and famine and destroyed health care services. Over 1.11 million people are facing catastrophic conditions and cannot leave. 

A planned Israeli Defence Force ground offensive on Rafah will put the lives of 600,000 children at risk. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)2 has warned that “the entire population in the Gaza Strip (2.23 million) is facing high levels of acute food insecurity” and “all famine thresholds [will] likely to be passed imminently”. Children are dying from preventable starvation.

Every day extreme violence and destruction in Gaza undermines the possibility of long-term peace and security of Palestinians and Israelis, reduces the chance of Israeli hostages being returned alive and further embeds regional violence. 

As social workers, we work for peace and dialogue between all communities in the UK and internationally. In the UK, we deplore the huge rise in reported antisemitic attacks, including in the immediate wake of the October 7th Hamas attack on Israeli civilians, and the fears arising from this within the Jewish community. We deplore the reported tripling of Islamophobic threats and attacks in the UK since October 7th and the military action in Gaza, two thirds of such acts being against women. Our commitment is to the right of all civilians to live free of violence and for fundamental human rights to be upheld for all people in accordance with the UN Declaration and the European Convention on Human Rights.

  1. ↩︎
  2. funded by UK Aid, the EU, USAID and Canadian government ↩︎