A group of British celebrities has spoken out against the "conspiracy of silence" over the alleged war crimes still taking place in the Gaza Strip.

More than 1,300 Palestinians died during the 22-day Israeli military offensive in late December and January, but hundreds of thousands remain in desperate need of aid.

Today Amnesty International UK has launched a new video featuring celebrities such as actress Thandie Newton, comedian Terry Jones and musician Annie Lennox.

In it they speak out against the "collective punishment of Gaza's civilian population".

"Right now, this minute, innocent people like you and me, children like mine and yours, are victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza," Thandie Newton says in the video.

Annie Lennox says there is now a "window of opportunity" to reach 200,000 civilians "desperately, urgently in need" of humanitarian aid.

According to Amnesty International UK, there is significant evidence of war crimes committed by the Israeli defence forces and Palestinian groups during the conflict, including the use of human shields and banned white phosphorous shells.

Former Monty Python star Terry Jones said: "Likewise, the indiscriminate shelling of southern Israel [by Hamas] is equally unacceptable."

Film director Mike Figgis said the targeting of civilians was "for whatever reason, let's be clear about this, this is a war crime".

Terry Jones added: "Those within Hamas and the Israeli government must be held responsible, even if it means arresting senior people."

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen explained that unless people continued to speak out against the alleged war crimes that took place the UK government would not feel compelled to follow suit.

"There's almost a conspiracy of silence over war crimes in Gaza that's totally unacceptable," Ms Allen said.

"Speaking out is one way of trying to stop this horrible cycle of violence beginning all over again."

To watch the video visit www.amnesty.org.uk/gazacrisis

13/02/2009 08:30:21