- by Anna Pha
- The Guardian
- Issue #2081
Photo: Anna Pha.
Almost 15,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s genocidal offensive against the people of Palestine following Hamas’ raid on 7 October. At least another 6800 are missing and presumed dead under the rubble. The Albanese government and the Opposition stand condemned for their silence on Israel’s atrocities as supporters of crimes against humanity.
In Australia tens of thousands of people continue to take part in pro-Palestinian rallies and marches, including strikes by school children. Indigenous Australians, Palestinians, Muslims, Jews, Christians, trade unionists, left parties, members of the Labor Party, the Greens, and many others have joined “Free Palestine,” in their call for peace and recognition of a Palestinian state.
Protesters at a blockade of an Israeli ship at Port Botany on 20 November called for an end to the blockade of Gaza. They were forcibly removed by police, with some arrested.
Israel never let up in its carpet bombing of hospitals, housing, UN schools, and essential infrastructure until a 4-day pause was agreed to. The pause commenced on Friday 24 November and was then extended on condition that at least 10 Israeli hostages held by Hamas were released each day in exchange for 30 Palestinians.
The 4-day ‘humanitarian pause’ saw the release of 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, and the entry of limited, and inadequate, humanitarian aid. Those released by Israel were mostly unconvicted women and children including minors held in Israeli prisons for as little as throwing stones.
The pause came amidst growing international pressure on Israel from governments and mass pro-Palestinian actions on the ground around the world. Even governments such as Australia and the US were forced to support a pause, but would not back a lasting ceasefire, or peace based on UN resolutions for a two-state solution. A pause is not a solution.
Other deals were also negotiated for 11 dual citizens including three French, two Germans and six Argentinians to be released in exchange for 33 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.
Israel has shown blatant disregard for international law; collective punishment of Palestinians is a crime against humanity.
Israel has killed 108 UN staff and at least 53 journalists.
“WAR ON CHILDREN”
“People are so desperate and you can see in adults’ eyes they haven’t eaten, you can see the children are getting thinner,” the UN children’s agency’s James Elder told Reuters speaking from Gaza City.
“There’s just this immense relief,” referring to the aid that was let through during the pause. “Literally people as they get water start drinking the water immediately,” he said. “They’re thirsty. They’ve been thirsty for days.”
“It seems callous and cold to think that we may be getting to the end of those deliveries, [during the 4-day pause] and hostilities will continue, … the war, this war on children will continue.”
Referring to the pause, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell told the UN Security Council, “this [pause] is far from enough: the war must be brought to an end, and the killing and maiming of children must stop immediately.”
“We estimate that 450,000 children in the West Bank need humanitarian assistance. UNICEF and its partners are providing mental health and protection support, water and sanitation services, and remedial education for 280,000 children in the West Bank.”
“Turning to Gaza, I have just returned from a visit to the south of the territory where I was able to meet with children, their families, and with UNICEF staff on the ground. I am haunted by what I saw and heard,” Russell said.
“The true cost of this latest war in Palestine and Israel will be measured in children’s lives – those lost to the violence, and those forever changed by it. Without an end to the fighting, and full humanitarian access, the cost will continue to grow exponentially.
“The destruction of Gaza and killing of civilians will not bring peace or safety to the region. The people of this region deserve peace. Only a negotiated political solution – one that prioritises the rights and wellbeing of this and future generations of Israeli and Palestinian children – can ensure that.”
A report released by Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs said that of the 3200 Palestinians detained by Israel since 7 October in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, 41 were journalists of whom 29 remain in detention.
The number detained since 7 October brings to more than 7000 the number of Palestinians from the occupied territory in detention. That includes more than 200 children and about 78 female prisoners, as well as hundreds of sick and wounded people, some of whom need “urgent medical intervention,” the report added.
It also noted that the recent detentions were accompanied by “widespread raids and abuse, in addition to vandalising and destroying of citizens’ homes, and severe beatings of the families of detainees”, in addition to the shooting of unarmed Palestinians that resulted in deaths.
A PAUSE IS NO SOLUTION
Samer AbdelJaber, the head of the World Food Program (WFP) in Palestine said the current truce between Israel and Hamas does not seek to “solve the conflict, but rather to free the kidnapped people”.
Netanyahu and his ultra-right Zionist government have no intention of letting Palestinians control Gaza, the West Bank or East Jerusalem, let alone the establishment of a Palestinian state in line with UN resolutions. Their aim is Greater Israel (Eretz Yisrael), the political and religious aims of Zionism for the “promised land,” a Jewish state, without Arabs.
Netanyahu has committed to continuing the genocide until Hamas is destroyed. If Hamas is destroyed other resistance movements will rise in its place. The only way Netanyahu can destroy Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation, oppression and control is to depopulate Palestinian lands by genocide or exodus. This is precisely what Israel is attempting to do.
Egypt and Jordan have made it clear that they will not accept any further Palestinian refugees. They support the implementation of a two-state solution as per UN resolutions, not the emptying of Palestinian lands by Israel.
What the Hamas raid and Israel’s subsequent offensive have achieved is a world-wide shift in public opinion. Israel has lost credibility and support. Attention has been drawn to the suffering and plight of the Palestinian people and the urgency of the implementation of the two-state solution as a just and lasting settlement.