One month after the terrorist acts by Hamas into Israel, the Australian Greens mourn the over 1400 innocent Israelis who lost their lives. There is no excuse, no justification and no celebration that can be found in attacks that deliberately targeted and sought to traumatise civilian communities. This was not an act of resistance, nor a legitimate military offensive. This was a terrorist act and we will continue to condemn it as such.
These events continue to cause pain for so many in Israel and across the world, who have lost loved ones, friends, and members of their community. The scale and brutality with which innocent civilians were targeted, slaughtered, mutilated and abducted rightly moves so many in the Australian community to voice our compassion and solidarity with all members of the Australian Jewish community and all those impacted. Among those whose lives were taken were older people in their homes, kids enjoying music festivals and children who knew little of the history of a conflict that had far predated them. Today is a time to remember those who lost their lives and those who loved them.
There are many who are also waiting for news of their loved one’s release from the hands of Hamas, taken hostage now for a month. The Greens reiterate our call for the unconditional release of those over 240 Israeli hostages and all political prisoners. We continue to condemn hostage taking for the war crime that it is.
The very same commitment to compassion, honesty, peace and justice required of us in response to the vile attacks of Hamas drives us as Greens to call out the war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by the state of Israel in Gaza right now.
Today, in Gaza, we see destruction, catastrophe and death, perpetrated by the Israeli government in response to October 7th. One atrocity does not justify another. Over 10,000 Palestinian civilians have died, over 4000 of them children. Medical services are being constantly targeted, plus refugee camps, journalists, United Nations workers and civilian infrastructure. The siege continues- so little food, water, fuel, healthcare & aid is entering Gaza’s borders when it is so desperately needed.
Children are dying and dreams of their future are going with them. Mothers are marking their children's skin in permanent marker with their name so they can be identified; fathers are digging them out from the rubble. Journalists are sharing the stories of those around them, putting themselves and their families at risk. 36 of those storytellers have died in this time.
The Australian Government must call for a ceasefire. What the world is currently witnessing is not self-defence. This is an indiscriminate campaign of collective punishment. Australia has been complicit, aiding and abetting the state of Israel with weak words and weapon exports. The Labor Government abstained from a United Nations resolution calling for a ceasefire. Today, again, they voted down another Greens motion for a ceasefire in the Senate. They should hang their heads in shame.
As seven UN Special Rapporteurs have said: “We are sounding the alarm. There is an ongoing campaign by Israel contributing to crimes against humanity in Gaza… Statements made by Israeli political leaders and their allies, accompanied by military action in Gaza and escalation of arrests and killing in the West Bank… [means] there is also a risk of genocide.”
Why have we come to a time where the bombing of children is excused by our government? A time when the calls of UN experts and human rights organisations are ignored. A time when the cries of over 2 million Palestinians in Gaza are louder than the drop of the Israeli bombs over their homes and yet they seem to be unheard by so many in positions of power.
The Australian Government so far has not acted in the interest of peace. The time is now. The collective punishment of all those in Gaza must end.
It is the role of elected representatives to represent our community. Many people have been contacting the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister’s offices sharing their views including the need for peace and freedom for Palestinians and Israelis, the need to support a ceasefire, and an end to the occupation of Palestinian Territories.
Tell them they are on the wrong side of history.
Senator Jordon Steele-John
Australian Greens spokesperson for Foreign Affairs