Update: The news that at least 50 hostages held by Hamas and 150 Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israeli jails will be released will be a welcome relief for all those involved and their families. And the announcement of an initial four-day long humanitarian pause is a positive step. But far more action is needed to address ongoing suffering and injustice in Gaza. The international community including Australia must urgently advocate for this truce to evolve into a sustained ceasefire. After four days, we can’t allow bombs to one again be dropped on the people of Gaza; for death and destruction to continue!
The unparalleled escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and other armed groups has taken a devastating toll on civilians in Gaza. The level of casualties is unprecedented. Countless lives have been shattered, ripped apart, and upended.
With each day that passes the humanitarian catastrophe is getting worse for civilians in Gaza and for the hostages kidnapped by Hamas. Australia has abstained from a resolution at the United Nations calling for a ceasefire. We need to make it clear that Australians support a ceasefire, and want their government to stand with them and call for a ceasefire today. A ceasefire will;
- Ensure there is a stop to unlawful attacks by all parties, halting the mounting death toll in Gaza,
- Enable aid agencies to get life-saving aid into the Gaza strip to address the staggering levels of human suffering. It will allow hospitals to receive life-saving medicines, fuel and equipment they desperately need and to repair damaged wards,
- Provide opportunities to negotiate the release of hostages detained in Gaza, and
- Allow for independent international investigations to take place into the war crimes.
Civilian deaths in Gaza continue to rise at a staggering rate amid relentless Israeli bombardment, in response to the horrific attacks in Israel by Hamas and other armed groups that resulted in 1,400 people killed and the abduction of civilians. Thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza including through indiscriminate and unlawful attacks. More than a third of casualties in Gaza are children and countless bodies are still trapped beneath the rubble. Millions more face further displacement, dispossession and suffering.
At least 200 Israeli hostages taken by Hamas and other armed groups and held in Gaza remain in danger, and ongoing indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel places civilians at risk.
Israel’s tightened siege of Gaza has blocked the entry of goods, including water, food and fuel leaving more than 2 million people in the Gaza Strip struggling to survive. The humanitarian catastrophe stemming from Israel’s 16-year-long illegal blockade on the occupied Gaza Strip will only get worse if the fighting doesn’t stop immediately.
Serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, by all parties to the conflict continue unabated. In the face of such unfettered devastation and suffering, humanity must prevail. The Foreign Minister has recently called for a pause in hostilities. This isn’t enough.