Australia, Canada and New Zealand have expressed alarm at Israel’s ongoing relentless bombardment of Gaza and its killing of civilians, emphasising that Tel Aviv must respect international law in a rare acknowledgement of the Occupation State’s crimes against humanity.
In a joint statement issued by Australia, Canada, and New Zealand yesterday, they said that they “mourn every Israeli and Palestinian innocent life which has been lost in this conflict and express our condolences to all families and communities affected by the violence.”
The countries could not issue a criticism of Israel, of course, without the caveat of first reiterating “Israel’s right to exist and right to defend itself” and condemning “Hamas’s terror attacks on Israel on 7 October, the appalling loss of life, and the heinous acts of violence perpetrated in those attacks, including sexual violence.”
They stated, however, that “Israel must respect international humanitarian law. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected. We are alarmed at the diminishing safe space for civilians in Gaza. The price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continuous suffering of all Palestinian civilians.”
The statement expressed their deep concern regarding “the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and ongoing risks to all Palestinian civilians. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be increased and sustained”.
It praised the recent pause in hostilities late last month which “allowed for the release of more than 100 hostages and supported an increase in humanitarian access to affected civilians”, but expressed the countries’ desire to “see this pause resumed and support urgent international efforts towards a sustainable ceasefire”.
The three nations also did not refrain from expressing their views on the future of Gaza’s governance, stating that “There is no role for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza” and calling on Palestinian Resistance group, Hamas, to “release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and lay down its arms.”
They insisted on their support for “Palestinians’ right to self-determination” and their opposition to “the forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, the re-occupation of Gaza, any reduction in territory, and any use of siege or blockade”.
The joint statement by Australia, Canada, and New Zealand – although over two months into Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip and its killing of over 18,200 Palestinian civilians so far – represents an expression of concern by Western nations which almost approaches criticism of the Occupation’s war crimes and human rights violations, causing some to see it as the start of a potential shift in their policies of unconditional backing for Israel.