Don't pay so you can read it. Pay so everyone can!

Don't pay so you can read it.
Pay so everyone can!

The killing continues, but Australia’s Government stands firm in supporting Israel and criminalising Palestine

by Farah Abdurahman | Jan 24, 2024 | Comment & Analysis, Latest Posts

As the civilian death toll in Gaza exceeds 25,500 Palestinians, at least 10,400 of whom were children, the Australian Government reaffirms its position in a statement almost entirely focused on Hamas that it took two weeks to curate. Farah Abdurahman reports.

A spokesperson for The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told MWM Australia’s position has always been “clear and consistent.”

“Since the beginning of the crisis, the Australian Government has been clear in condemning unequivocally Hamas’s 7 October terror attacks, Australia proscribed Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist organisation on 4 March 2022 under Division 102 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

“Hamas in its entirety has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by like-minded partners, including the United Kingdom (2021), United States (1997) and Canada (2002).

“Separately, Hamas in its entirety has been listed for counter-terrorism financing sanctions since 2001.”

Following this unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and its classification as a terrorist organisation, the DFAT spokesperson went on to say that: “in defending itself, Israel must respect international law, and that civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, must be protected.”

This rhetoric comes as Israeli-occupied forces continue their siege and storm hospitals, and demolish universities, businesses, and homes across the 360km narrow strip of land. Land that is home to some 2.3 million Palestinian refugees who were already internally displaced after illegal occupation forced them off their ancestral land.

Overnight in Gaza, more than 173 Palestinians were killed by aerial strikes, many of whom were seeking refuge in designated safe zones. This is despite the government of Benjamin Netanyahu claiming recently that IDF operations would wind down in Gaza.

At least 50 people were reported killed in Khan Younis, a safe zone Israel told civilians to evacuate to.

Israeli forces also besieged Nasser Hospital, which is the largest remaining, semi-functioning hospital in Southern Gaza.

In separate attacks across the strip, Israeli forces targeted the Palestine Red Crescent Society Head Quarters at Al Amal Hospital, arrested medical staff at Al Khair Hospital, bombed Al Aqsa University and bombed entire residential blocks in Jabalia.

This is a nightly incursion the people of Gaza have sustained for more than 100 days now.

The Gaza Strip has also been under an almost complete communications blackout for around 10 days, stifling aid and medical coordination.

Human rights abuses

Geneva-based human rights group – Euro-Med Monitor estimated that of those killed in Israeli air and artillery attacks on the Strip thus far, 92 per cent (28,951) were civilians.

Additionally, 63,354 individuals have been injured, hundreds of them critically. The Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that 400,000 people are infected with communicable diseases such as diarrhoea, acute hepatitis, and respiratory illness due to unsanitary living conditions.

In addition to the 25,500 Palestinians killed, a further 7,000, mostly children, remain missing, presumed dead.

Around 10,000 cancer patients are at risk of death, jaundice cases are increasing, 337 medical staff have been murdered, 152 UN aid workers have been murdered, 117 journalists have been murdered, 45 civil defence staff have been murdered and 7100 women are confirmed dead, with many more women experiencing reproductive violence.

There are around 50,000 expectant mothers besieged in Gaza, with an estimated 180 child births taking place each day with non-existent medical intervention or post-partum care.

A lawyer’s perspective: what does South Africa’s genocide court case in the Hague mean for the war in Gaza?

A war against children

More than 10,000 children killed, and at least 33,000 have been made orphans.

The history of warfare is full of euphemisms and abbreviations used to hide its horrors. The war against the children of Gaza has coined a new term:

Wounded Child, No Surviving Family (WCNSF).

In response to Israel’s collective punishment, carpet bombing, deliberate violations of human rights and international law, as well as the weaponised use of starvation against a civilian population, DFAT said, “Australia voted at the UN for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”

“The Australian Government has consistently called for safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access so that food, water, fuel, medicine and essential assistance can reach people in desperate need, and so civilians can get to safety,” the DFAT spokesperson said.

In direct contrast, live video and photographic evidence from Gazan journalists, along with witness testimony from medical staff and UN aid workers on the ground, have demonstrated that there are no safe places in Gaza and that without an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, many more will die. 

DFAT said Australia committed to providing $46 million in aid through “trusted partners” to address essential needs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. But were unclear on how much of that funding would directly support Palestinians in Gaza.

No comment from Penny Wong

MWM reached out to the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Penny Wong, for comment but was instead sent links to press releases announcing aid commitments.

The most recent was a $21.5M commitment, with more than half of that funding ($11.5 million) designated to refugee programs in Lebanon and Jordan.

Australia Palestine Advocacy Network president Nasser Mashni said APAN has been calling on the Australian Government to begin to act with moral and legal consistency and integrity regarding Palestine, saying that:

For more than 100 days, our government has offered only feeble words of restraint as Israel has brazenly defied international law to indiscriminately kill Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

“Australian Government support for Palestine has always lagged behind community sentiment and expectations, and this is something we’re seeing quite starkly now.,” Naser Mashni continued.

“Australia also repeatedly stated that it wanted to avoid an escalation of violence in the region, but these words ring hollow when our government joins an illegal war in the Middle East to bomb Yemen, who have responded to genocide by attempting to block the passage of commercial goods.”

Debate simmers as Wong returns from Middle East mission

The criminalising of Palestine

In response to DFAT’s statement, Mr Mashni said that “the designation of the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organisation in Australia has had real ramifications for international and regional political dialogue around a political resolution to achieve justice for Palestinians.”

“The process of doing so relied on a one-sided composition of partisan “expert” witnesses. It has had terrible implications for the Australian-Palestinian community who have families in Gaza and are required to interact day-to-day with Gazan authorities.”

“It also criminalised the entire Palestinian civil administration in Gaza, allowing Israel to wantonly murder Palestinians and deem them Hamas operatives even if they are doctors or schoolteachers.

“And, as we’ve seen these past months, it has had the very real consequence of being weaponised against Palestinian civilians, by criminalising millions of Palestinians who live under Hamas’ rule in Gaza, and by making Palestinians in the diaspora the direct targets of racism and discrimination.

“We believe that Australia must support the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed by Israel, impose targeted sanctions against the Israeli government, end its financial and military assistance and resourcing of Israel, and seriously reassess our relationship with Israel. To fail to take these measures would be complicity in Israel’s crimes.”

The caravan to Israel – journalist jaunts, political passengers, diplomatic dispatches and jobs lost

Farah is a former political reporter for Fairfax Media. She has almost 20 years of media and communications experience in senior and executive roles working across government, research and innovation, and the private sector.

Don't pay so you can read it. Pay so everyone can!

Don't pay so you can read it.
Pay so everyone can!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This