IBBY UK and British writers and illustrators for children and young people protest the effect on children of the latest Israeli assault in Gaza

At IBBY UK, we are proud to be part of an international organisation of people dedicated to children’s literacy and literature and to the promotion of international understanding through children’s books.

As members of the IBBY global family, we are horrified by the relentless bombing and recent invasion of Gaza by Israel and the attacks on ordinary civilians and families with children. The fatal shooting of four boys playing football on a beach prompted us to express our dismay and outrage.

Since 2008 the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has been supporting two new children’s libraries in the Gaza Strip. The two IBBY libraries in Rafah and Beit Hanoun have been heavily bombarded by Israeli military and thousands of Palestinians living there have been displaced. The two areas are now military zones after the Israeli land invasion. PBBY (Palestinian Board of Books for Young People) received this message from the librarian, Abla Hassan, in Beit Hanoun about the situation there before she was displaced:

“The al-Ata’ community based centre that hosts the library has been targeted and very badly damaged. The children's courtyard has been destroyed as well as books, computers, windows and walls. As to the houses of the children who use the library, three houses have been completely destroyed and thirty houses partially destroyed. The number of children or their family members killed is not known yet.

No known news about the library in al-Shawka – Rafah. All families are displaced including the librarian Mahmoud who left two days ago and described the situation, 'it was horrific - tens of civilians killed and tens of houses destroyed - no specific news about the situation of the children using the library and the library building.'”

Last year, a delegation including our International President and Executive Director were able to visit the libraries for the first time. In Rafah, parents and children told the IBBY delegation that at least inside the library they felt safe. In Beit Hanoun in the north, the children were more agitated and on edge. They spoke about how frightening it was to hear drones overhead and of the people they knew who had been killed or injured in Israeli air strikes. There are no bomb shelters in Gaza. They talked about the choice they had to make when the bombing started: to stay in the house or go out into the street? Either way they might be killed.

It is impossible to imagine what it is like for young people just to live from day to day in Gaza under such constant pressure. We are shocked by the numbers of dead and injured children. Fatalities include eight cousins of Beit Hanoun’s librarian.

Gaza has long been a place under siege, its borders closed, with frequent shortages of food, water and electricity. In such circumstances the space for children and young people to grow, learn and dream is hard to find. That is what our libraries sought to provide – and now they are gone.

IBBY UK and the following writers and illustrators for young people, lecturers, teachers, librarians and storytellers call on the British Government to do all in its power to influence the government of Israel not only to cease its present assault but to lift its blockade of Gaza and its occupation of other Palestinian territory and to work in good faith towards a lasting peace in the region.

A full list of more than 1,200 signatories is at http://tinyurl.com/k9kogc5

• Since 2008 the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has been supporting two new children's libraries in the Gaza Strip. IBBY is an international organisation of people dedicated to children's literacy and literature and to the promotion of international understanding through children's books.

Last year, an IBBY delegation was able to visit Gaza for the first time. In Beit Hanoun the children spoke about hearing the drones overhead and of the people they knew who had been killed or injured in Israeli air strikes.

It is impossible to imagine what it is like for young people just to live from day to day in Gaza under such constant pressure. IBBY UK and the many writers and illustrators for young people, lecturers, teachers, librarians and storytellers who have signed this letter call on the British government to influence the government of Israel to cease its present assault and to lift its blockade of Gaza and its occupation of other Palestinian territory and to work in good faith towards a lasting peace in the region.

Click here to add your signature to the petition. 

IBBY 

Pam Dix chair of IBBY UK, Anne Fine author and former children's laureate, Michael Rosen author and former children's laureate, Philip Pullman author, Jackie Kay, Debjani Chatterjee poet, Anne Marley librarian , Alan Gibbons author, Gillian Cross author, Bali Rai author, Beverley Naidoo author, Bernard Ashley author, Rina Vergano playwright, Candy Gourlay author, Elizabeth Laird author, Jane Ray illustrator Helen Cowcher illustrator, Jeremy Strong author, Matthew Kay filmmaker, Kerry Mason and Fen Coles Letterbox Library, Julia Jarman author, Linda Newbery author, Lynne Reid Banks author, Catherine Johnson author, Nicholas Tucker author, Piet Grobler illustrator and lecturer, Rose Impey author, Prodeepta Das photographer, Vivien French author, Sophie Hallam, Mary Hoffman author, Chris Stephenson, Carol Thompson illustrator, Pamela Lewis, Ferelith Hordon librarian and editor, Charles Forrest, Val Edgar author, Margaret Bateson-Hill author and storyteller, Rachel Johnson, Mary Green author, Margaret Chamberlain illustrator, Nicki Cornwell author, Evelyn Arizpe lecturer, Anne Harding librarian and lecturer, Ann Lazim librarian, Anna McQuinn author and publisher,Laura Cecil literary agent, Nicola Collins, Tricia Adams librarian, Pat Pinsent author and lecturer, Clive Barnes librarian, Lesley Delaney, Alexandra Strick book consultant, Rebecca Butler student, John Newman bookseller, Enid Stephenson, Eve Tandoi student, Jean Burke, Karen Argent teacher and lecturer, Nikki Marsh, Ollie Alden, Beth Cox book consultant, Sheila Ray librarian and lecturer, Shirley Hobson, Zoe Toft book consultant, Sarah Lawrence, Diana Kimpton author, Kay Waddilove, Anne Walker, Susan Bailes, Bridget Carrington, Sue Mansfield librarian, and Marion Brettle.