The Guardian • Issue #2090

‘ … and now starvation’

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2090
Rally for Palestine.

Photo: Anna Pha

Marcus Browning

Civil society groups have condemned Australia’s failure to support international law and its neglect of the people of Gaza where civilians continue to be killed amid widespread starvation.

The Australian government’s silence in responding to Israel’s deliberate targeting of Gaza civilians has been challenged by over 100 Australian civil society organisations deeply concerned that their government has failed to act to prevent further large-scale death and destruction of the Palestinian people.

A statement giving evidence of Australian civil society action since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an interim ruling in the South African case of genocide against the government of Israel, has been sent to the Court in The Hague.

This statement is intended to show the ICJ that many Australians are deeply disturbed by the failure of their government to respond to its obligations as a signatory to the Genocide Convention.

A number of other countries have taken strong measures in response to the ICJ interim Orders but Australian leaders have opposed a motion in parliament to act.

There has been no official statement to the parliament or the public, to acknowledge the ICJ case or decision.

In abrogation of its responsibility under the Genocide Convention, Australia itself withheld aid to the UNWRA – the largest provider of humanitarian support in Gaza – on the very day the ICJ stated humanitarian support for the people of Gaza must be provided.

“The situation in Gaza is absolutely catastrophic yet the Australian government has failed to act strongly to promote a ceasefire, humanitarian support and mediation for a just outcome. We expect so much more of a Labor government and the Prime Minister must put the Palestinian people ahead of international politics,” former Senator and Federal Minister, Margaret Reynolds said.

Former diplomat, Alison Broinowski said: “Australia is falling behind many nations by failing to act in support of the ICJ’s finding of ‘plausible genocide.’ It is the responsibility of UN member states to move against genocide wherever it occurs and whoever commits it. Our government’s silence reflects a lack of moral courage and the will to do anything in the face of the prospect of extermination of the people of Gaza. The protest raised by wide-ranging civil society groups against Australia’s passivity has now been communicated to the ICJ.”

Journalist and former SBS World News presenter, Mary Kostakidis also commented: “The government’s silence on the ICJ case is an abrogation of their responsibility to articulate to the Australian people our obligations under the Genocide Convention, including the risk of complicity for failure to act to prevent genocide. This is in stark contrast to increasing levels of distress, anger and powerlessness in the community which can see in an unprecedented way, evidence of the scale and nature of the slaughter and now starvation.”

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