Forty-three Palestinians, including children, were killed in the Gaza Strip last weekend. If the situation was reversed and forty-three Israelis killed by rocket fire from Gaza, there would be far greater outrage.
The forty-three include five-year-old Alaa who was on her way home from kindergarten, and nineteen year old Khalil, an only child, whose parents had tried for 16 years to conceive him, and he had just graduated to University. There is no safe place on the Gaza strip. Every child, every mother, all citizens have been re-traumatised – for what?
Our Ambassador in Tel Aviv says Israel has the right to defend itself. Defend itself from what? Israel has the 6th largest armed force in the world and is fourth in technological expertise. Israel says it faced some form of immediate attack. It has provided no evidence. It has tried to convince the world that Islamic Jihad operatives were about to mount a campaign of terror. Israel has built the most advanced surveillance system in the world. If it had this evidence, it would know where these operatives were, and it would possess the capacity to disarm them without endangering civilian life. Under international law there is no right to assassinate, least of all is there any right to indiscriminately kill innocent civilians. Here in Australia, we are courageously facing up to war crimes allegedly committed by our service personnel in Afghanistan. Israel continues to oppose investigation of its alleged atrocities at the command of its politicians.
Let us be very thankful that no Israeli was killed or hurt by the rockets that came from Gaza. But let us also recognise that these rockets were fired after Israel’s first attack. Every individual, every nation has the right to defend itself from aggression. But no individual or nation has the right to so subjugate another, to so diminish their humanity that they are forced to live in a world where normal freedoms and decencies have long since been taken away. Such is the lot of 2 million Palestinians in Gaza who through no fault of their own have been corralled into an open prison, from which many can glimpse the land and homes from which they were forced from by Jewish militia in 1948.
So, what exactly was going on here? Prime Minister Lapid will soon face another general election. It is said he will face an uphill battle to beat a resurgent Netanyahu. Politicians everywhere always fall back on images of their strength, supposedly in defence of the lifestyle and freedoms of the electorate. It will have done Lapid absolutely no harm to assure his supporters that he is as capable as Netanyahu in asserting Israeli rights at the expense of Palestinians.
A ceasefire has been announced. But this is not a ceasefire like the one we all hope and pray may soon emerge in Ukraine. Here two combatants of almost equal strength do not exist. Here there is a continuing occupation, a blockade of Gaza, a gradual cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. There is no ceasefire in all of these operations against Palestinians. These are the daily, relentless violence that Palestinians experience.
The world must insist on better than just a truce. Palestinians and Israelis desperately need a true and just peace.