Families for Palestine: ‘It is vital to keep pressuring the PM’

March 8, 2024
This is the set-up just outside the Prime Minister's electorate office door in Marrickville. Photo: Peter Boyle

Families for Palestine are continuing their 24/7 sit-in protest outside the electorate office of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Marrickville.

They brave the rain, heat and threats of New South Wales Police intervention, saying they are determined to remain until the government calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and ends its support for Israel.

The group aims to bring together families and community members who are motivated to take a stance against Israel’s relentless air-strikes on Gaza.

Now more than 30,000 innocent people have been killed — a hugely disproportionate response to the events of October 7. According to the Gazan Health Ministry, women and children account for 67% of these deaths.

Children are affected from the minute they are born, as expectant mothers are forced to give birth in unsafe conditions, without access to adequate obstetric services.

At the beginning of the war, UNICEF said an estimated 180 Gazan women give birth in these harrowing conditions every day.

Now there are fewer hospitals in existence as Israel has directly fired on them. Those still operating are struggling with a lack of medical supplies and exhausted staff.

Paz, a member of Families for Palestine, told Green Left that these realities show that Israel’s actions constitute ethnic cleansing.

“Why else would they deliberately target hospitals and refugee camps — places densely populated by women and children, the most vulnerable members of the community?”

Shamefully, the group’s many attempts to reach the prime minister have fallen on deaf ears.

“We are there as his constituents,” Paz said, “yet we’ve received no recognition from him at all”.

Albanese has refused to demand a permanent ceasefire, or condemn Israel. He has instead issued vague statements calling for a “sustainable ceasefire”, while reiterating that Israel “has a right to defend itself”.

This framing does not acknowledge the disproportionate nature of Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza, which has led to a death toll nearly 30 times that of Hamas’s October 7 attacks.

Israel’s iron-fisted control of Palestinian territories, ability to block food, water and electricity from Gaza and lucrative relationships with military superpowers, such as the United States, means that the state poses a constant existential threat to the poverty-stricken Gaza strip.

Francesca Albanese, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has denied the validity of Israel’s “self-defence” claim.

“Israel cannot claim the right of self-defence against a threat that emanates from a territory it occupies, from a territory that is under belligerent occupation,” she said last November.

Family for Palestine’s members say it is vital to speak up for children and families of Gaza, who are forced to endure unspeakable mental and physical torment.

“What Israel is doing in Gaza is unconscionable. As someone with young children myself, I cannot even imagine the horrors faced by parents in Gaza,” said Paz.

“However, you don’t have to be a parent to care. We have people from all walks of life, living various lifestyles … the important thing is fighting for change through the power of the collective.

“Whether that means connecting with fellow activists, organising protests … even just putting up posters and stickers to raise awareness for the cause. We have a responsibility to keep the momentum going,” Paz concluded.

[Contact Families for Palestine on Insta if you can commit to spending time at the 24/7 protest.]

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