House debates

Monday, 14 July 2014

Statements by Members

Middle East

1:33 pm

Photo of Melissa ParkeMelissa Parke (Fremantle, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

In this international year of solidarity with the Palestinian people and as someone who lived in Gaza for 2½ years when I worked with UNRWA I wish to register my extreme concern about the Israeli bombardment of Gaza that has occurred over the past few days and which continues. So far, more than 170 Palestinians have been killed and 1,100 injured. The UN reports that 77 per cent of these casualties are civilians. By comparison, there have been no Israeli deaths from rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. The rockets from Gaza are not in any way justified and insofar as they threaten and harm civilians are illegal under international law. But these imprecise rockets fired by militants cannot be compared with the broad-scale bombing of a densely populated city by one of the largest and best equipped military forces in the world. As Noam Chomsky has said:

When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing. … Call it what you like, it's not defence.

The Israelis know every inch of Gaza and are capable of pinpointing their rockets. It is therefore inexcusable that a centre for disabled people was targeted. It is unacceptable that women and children are being killed indiscriminately as collateral damage. Collective punishment is not permitted under the Geneva conventions and is a war crime.

Following on from the recent terrible murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers, both sides should have shown restraint instead of allowing extremists to set the agenda. In my view a UN peacekeeping force is necessary to restore calm and provide a conducive environment for settlement talks.