The Guardian • Issue #2087

Palestine: Albanese’s blood-soaked hands

  • by Anna Pha
  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2087
Sunshine Coast rally in support of Palestine.

Sunshine Coast rally in support of Palestine.

The death toll is close to 30,000 with thousands more missing under the bombed rubble – mostly women and children. The relentless Israeli bombardment and ground offensive have displaced more than 80 percent of the population, according to aid agencies, and reduced much of the territory to rubble.

Around 1.4 million – more than half the population – are crammed into Rafah with nowhere to go, many sleeping outside in tents and makeshift shelters, as Israel prepares an assault on the city. They face shortages of food, water, fuel, medicines, and shelter, with many of them facing starvation, and attempting to survive in the most appalling conditions.

Around the world, including in Australia, the protest actions continue. Millions of people participate in marches and demonstrations. Western governments hypocritically mouth platitudes in support of a ceasefire, but support the onslaught.

WONG THE COLLABORATOR

Foreign Minister Penny Wong continues the Albanese government’s collaboration in Israel’s atrocity, justifying its murder of more than 11,500 children and traumatising and orphaning many thousands more. Israel, as occupying power, has no right to self-defence.

Worse still, following Israel’s unsubstantiated claims that 12 of the UN’s aid agency UNWRA took part in the 7 October attack on Israel, Wong quickly acted to cut off funding to UNRWA.

When questioned about her actions, Wong made a pathetic show of concern for the Palestinian people: “Australia voted for immediate humanitarian ceasefire [at the UN]. We want the hostages returned. We want humanitarian aid in. We want civilian lives protected.”

PM Albanese with his blood-soaked hands has also hypocritically repeated the calls for Israel to ‘minimise’ civilian casualties.

Within Labor ranks there are strong concerns over the government’s position. Labor backbencher MP Josh Wilson is the latest to break ranks. He condemned Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as “unconscionable” declaring that the besieged territory is “being bombed into rubble.”

“The wholesale destruction of Gaza is not self-defence,” Wilson said. The entire population was “being squeezed further and further south, in starvation conditions without basic medical services.”

The Australian Greens are the only parliamentary party to speak out against Israel’s criminal actions and defend the Palestinians.

Some trade unions have also expressed support.

UNRWA UNDER SIEGE

As for UNRWA terminating the employment of its accused workers, commissioner general Philippe Lazzarini explained that he followed “reverse due process” in sacking nine staff members.

When asked at a press conference in Jerusalem if he had looked into whether there was any evidence against the employees, he replied: “No, the investigation is going on now.”

“Indeed, I have terminated without due process because I felt at the time that not only the reputation, but the ability of the entire agency to continue to operate and deliver critical humanitarian assistance was at stake if I did not take such a decision,” he said.

“My judgement, based on this going public, true or untrue, was I need to take the swiftest and boldest decision to show that as an agency we take this allegation seriously.”

Lazzarini said the agency was operating in a “hostile” environment. Since the allegations were made, an Israeli bank account belonging to UNRWA has been frozen and the agency warned that its tax benefits would be cancelled. A consignment of food aid from Turkey, including flour, chickpeas, rice, sugar, and cooking oil, that would sustain 1.1 million people for a month had been blocked at the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Israel has long sought to remove UNRWA from Palestine. Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, did not mince words. “We have been warning for years: UNRWA perpetuates the refugee issue, obstructs peace, and serves as a civilian arm of Hamas in Gaza.”

The UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services is investigating the allegations while a separate independent review of the agency’s risk management processes is being led by the former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna.

UWRA is set to run out of funds by the end of February or early March.

US UNIONS

The AFL-CIO, the largest labour federation in the US, has issued a statement calling for “a negotiated ceasefire in Gaza.” The statement also condemned the attack on Israel by Hamas, and demanded that desperately needed food, shelter, medicine, and other assistance be provided to the people of Gaza. The federation also called for the release of hostages and emphasised the need for a two-state solution.

Hypocritically, the US has kept Israel supplied with weapons and withdrawn funding to UNRWA.

The actions of Australia, the US and other western allies that have cut off aid breach the intent of the International Court of Justice ruling. Israel is required to take all reasonable measures to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance, and prevent and punish incitement to commit genocide. Supporting Israel militarily and cutting aid facilitates genocide.

‘GREATER ISRAEL’

Hamas proposed a ceasefire of four and a half months, during which all hostages would go free, Israel would withdraw its troops and an agreement would be reached on an end to the Israeli offensive. Its offer was a response to a proposal drawn up by US and Israeli spy chiefs with Qatar and Egypt.

Hamas is also seeking the release of the more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, half of them imprisoned since 7 October and many of them children.

Israel rejected the proposal outright. Despite growing pressure around the world Israel shows no sign of letting up. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting proposals for a humanitarian ceasefire, said there could be no solution to Israel’s security issues except “absolute victory” over Hamas.

The ultra-right Zionist government does not care about Palestinian lives. It has no intention of letting up while any Palestinians remain. To them Palestinian lives are less than human. Their aim is ‘greater Israel’ with no Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

More Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank have led to the arrests of dozens of Palestinians and the number held in Israeli jails has more than doubled since the Hamas attack on 7 October.

Aid agencies are warning of catastrophic humanitarian consequences of looming Rafah ground invasion.

Urgent! Write NOW to Penny Wong and Anthony Albanese:

Demand they restore UNRWA funding.

Demand they expel Israeli diplomats.

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