As I write, the Israeli government has killed at least 10,000 people in Gaza, at least 70% of whom are women and children. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has bombed homes, hospitals, mosques, schools and neighbourhoods, at times with white phosphorus, an illegal weapon.
The reported death toll omits those who are missing under the vast landscape that is now made up of broken buildings and broken dreams.
The dead are being stored in ice cream trucks and laid to rest in mass graves. So many of them will never be identified.
Though I now reside in Sydney’s west, I’ve lived most of my life in Gaza.
My friend Mohammed, who recently wrote to me and our friends, said he hopes we and our families are fine, but said: “We are dying” and “There is no safe place to go”.
Of course nowhere is safe: Israel has ordered Palestinians living in north of Gaza to evacuate to the south, with 24 hours warning. As some made the desperate attempt to relocate, they were bombed.
The forced relocation, the relentless murder of civilians and the targeting of hospitals is just the latest instance of Israel’s colonial plan; it has been tolerated by Western governments for decades.
Western governments, including Australia, have now granted permission to escalate to an active genocide campaign. Australia’s silence amid the persecution of Palestinian civilians is deafening.
As we watch United States weapons decimate Gaza, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese went so far as to commend the “leadership President Biden has shown”.
As we watch, Palestinian civilians suffer untold violence; innocent people who have already endured 16 years of siege, occupation and humiliation at the hands of the Israeli government and decades of violence prior to that.
The Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade supports a two-state solution, in which Israel and a future Palestinian state co-exist in peace and security, with internationally recognised borders.
Australia also professes concern about “Israeli actions that undermine the prospects of a two-state solution” and urges “Israel and other actors to respect international law”.
What Israel is doing is collective punishment against innocent civilians in Gaza — half of whom are children.
These are war crimes. Respect for international law is far gone. The collective punishment of Gazans defies international law, as does the enforced transfer of a population under occupation.
The Australian government is blind to its double standard in supporting Indigenous Australians while, at the same time, supporting an apartheid regime that has killed and dispossessed the original inhabitants of Palestine over the past 75 years.
Over this year alone, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank, often by armed settlers from illegal settlements. Five thousand Palestinians languish in Israeli jails, including hundreds of children.
I implore the Anthony Albanese government to publicly condemn the Israeli government, immediately end military ties with Israel and call for an immediate ceasefire on the global stage.
[Shamikh Badra is a Gadi/Sydney resident, originally from Gaza in Palestine. He is a convener of the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine, a PhD candidate at the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry at the University of Wollongong, and holds a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Sydney. His research examines Palestinian peaceful and diplomatic resistance to the Zionist movement and the creation of the state of Israel.]