Foreign policy group Te Kuaka calls on NZ to urge immediate Gaza ceasefire

Israel continued to pummel Gaza today with air raids
Israel continued to pummel Gaza today with air raids, killing dozens of people, including nine children in the city of Khan Younis. Image: Al Jazeera screenshot/APR

Asia Pacific Report

A progressive foreign policy group is calling for the New Zealand government to condemn the siege of Gaza, and demand an immediate ceasefire to allow the establishment of a humanitarian aid corridor in the region.

Israel’s complete siege on the Gaza Strip has cut off power, food, water, electricity and fuel to the region, as the death toll from Israeli air strikes climbs over 1,100.

Human rights advocates are condemning this action as a crime against humanity.

Thousands of Palestinians — including the deaths of seven journalists bearing witness — and humanitarian workers have been targeted, injured and killed by Israeli air strikes.

Hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed, as fuel supplies needed to run generators have been cut off, resulting in a power blackout across the region.

“We are horrified by the New Zealand government’s failure to demand an end to Israel’s genocidal campaign against Palestinians in Gaza,” said Te Kuaka co-director Dr Arama Rata.

“We call for the New Zealand government to urge an immediate ceasefire and the provision of healthcare and humanitarian assistance in Gaza.”

Reckless rhetoric
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant justified the siege by claiming: “We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.”

US President Joe Biden condemned Hamas as a “terrorist” organisation, and affirmed “Israel’s right to defend itself”.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta reiterated these statements.

A member of Te Kuaka, researcher and writer Dr Max Harris, said: “There is a pressing danger right now that claims about Israel’s right to self-defence are being used as cover for profound violations of international law, and the destruction of families and communities in Gaza.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, has expressed deep concern about the situation, and about UK Labour leader Keir Starmer’s comments claiming Israel’s right to self-defence justified the cutting off of electricity and supplies to Gaza.

Albanese has called the intentional starvation of civilians as part of a broader attack on civilians a “war crime and, potentially, a crime against humanity”.

Dr Harris said: “New Zealand must set other countries’ sights on the need for a humanitarian aid corridor, and our political leaders must avoid reckless rhetoric that will pave the way for war crimes and further senseless loss of life.”

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