- by Anna Pha
- The Guardian
- Issue #2080
Photo: Anna Pha
The calls for a ceasefire grow louder and louder as hundreds of thousands of people continue to demonstrate in the major cities around the world. In Australia, the weekly actions become larger and larger as the horrors of Israel’s relentless land, sea and air assault on innocent and defenceless Palestinians continue to mount.
The US, Australia and other western powers that continue to export arms to Israel and refuse to call for a lasting ceasefire have blood on their hands. It is their unqualified support that enables apartheid Israel to continue to act with impunity, as it has done for the past 75 years since the Nakba (catastrophe).
Pressure is mounting within Labor Party ranks on the government’s refusal to call for a ceasefire, and its meaningless utterances calling on Israel not to break international law. Israel’s genocide of Palestinians, its blockade and control over Gaza, its displacement and murder of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, its apartheid system, and failure to carry out UN resolutions on a two state solution are ongoing breaches of international law.
Sally Abil Khalil, Oxfam’s Middle East Regional Director said: “It is grotesque that people in Gaza are being forced to endure such inhumane conditions. How much longer is Israel going to be allowed to operate with impunity? Drinking water, food, fuel, medicine – these are the very basic elements of human subsistence – denying them breaks International Humanitarian Law.
“There has been no functioning water and sanitation system for 40 days, sewage is overflowing into the streets, and people are drinking dirty water to survive.”
“It is clear that if Israel is allowed to continue its military campaign without meeting its legal responsibilities toward protecting and provisioning innocent civilians, the whole of Gaza is effectively being handed a death sentence. The world leaders who are supporting Israel and blocking global calls for a ceasefire are aiding and abetting them at every turn.”
Labor MPs Maria Vamvakinou and Fatima Payman joined Coalition MP Mark Coulton, the Greens, and health workers in speaking out against the “humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in Gaza.” They stood together to receive two petitions signed by more than 120,000 Australians demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza which the Greens presented to Parliament.
“We have to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” Vamvakinou said.
Nasser Mashni, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, said the high level of support for the petitions “rekindles our hope in the compassion and humanity of this community.”
“The community has begged, pleaded, cried, screamed, chanted, and rallied for a ceasefire during the past 40 days.”
“We rely on the Australian people to march on behalf of the people of Gaza … to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.”
One of the petitions was signed by 82,000 people urging the Australian government to condemn Israel’s military operations and call for an immediate ceasefire.
The other petition, signed by about 40,000 people, was organised by Australian healthcare workers who said a ceasefire was needed to alleviate the suffering of civilians and health staff in Gaza.
After failing to adopt four earlier draft resolutions which were vetoed by the US, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2712 on 15 November, calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” in Gaza for “a sufficient number of days” to allow full, rapid, safe and unhindered access for UN agencies and partners.
The resolution also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages , especially children, held by Hamas and other groups, and urged the parties to refrain from depriving civilians in Gaza of life-saving services and humanitarian assistance. It failed to mention the 9000 or more prisoners , many of them children, being arbitrarily held in Israeli military prisons.
A joint Arab and Islamic summit demanded an end to Israeli aggression, the breaking of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and prosecution of Israel for its crimes. Representatives of the summit are following up with visits to other countries.
They strongly condemned the incursion into the Al-Shifa medical complex by the Israeli occupation forces, and their continued siege of hospitals in Gaza City; cutting off electricity, fuel, and food, and targeting of medical crews, displaced persons, the sick and injured and premature babies in incubators. They said the collective punishment and genocide perpetrated against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law.
They called on all international actors to assume their responsibility toward an immediate and complete halt to the Israeli aggression and to ensure the opening of humanitarian corridors for the safe and sustainable delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
Arab and Muslim foreign ministers have met with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, in Beijing and called for a ceasefire. Wang said that the international community must intervene in the war and stop what he described as a humanitarian disaster.
They also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
While most of the attention is on the Gaza Strip, Israel has intensified raids in the occupied West Bank, taking more lives and damaging infrastructure, including roads and power transformers. Jenin’s hospital was surrounded and damaged.
Israeli forces have killed at least 185 Palestinians and injured 2500 in the West Bank in little more than a month, according to Palestinian authorities.
Al Jazeera correspondent Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Ramallah, saying “The raids have gotten to up to about 40 per day,” Al Jazeera correspondent Mohammed Jamjoom said. “That’s a huge increase from where they were earlier in the year, throughout 2023, when they had become an almost daily occurrence.”
The number of illegal settlements continues to rise as Israelis act with impunity, driving Palestinians from their land and homes.
The UN must act now to end this genocide now. The Australian government must support all efforts towards peace and justice for the Palestinian people.