Questions remain about Labor’s response to citizens caught up, or volunteering to fight, in Israel’s war

October 25, 2023
A protest in Muloobinba/Newcastle. Photo: Ren Agade

The Australian Prime Minister last week spoke about the plight of thousands of Australians in Israel-Palestine, including 16 Palestinian-Australians, who were visiting the Gaza Strip.

Labor has repatriated 1800 Australians through Ben Gurion International Airport, the majority of whom have dual Israeli-Australian citizenship.

But it had also promised to provide buses to transport Palestinian-Australians from the West Bank to the Jordanian border, which is closed from the Israeli side.

However it retracted that promise and asked those people to register on the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and leave the West Bank, the Jerusalem area and the Gaza Strip as quickly as possible by any means.

At the same time, hundreds of Zionist Australians have been allowed to fly to Israel to join the Israeli occupation army and participate in the aggression against the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon.

The media is reporting that Zionist Australians are participating in combat operations against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It also reported that two Australians had died in combat against the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip and that prayers were held for those people in Gadi/Sydney and Naarm/Melbourne.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said on October 22 he would not allow prayers to be held for the “terrorists” from the Hezbollah forces and Hamas, arguing it would breach federal laws.

Minns said this was part of his campaign to prevent the spread of “solidarity with terrorists”. However prayers were held in several mass gatherings. In addition, Arabic-Australians and Islamic communities, together with human rights activists, students and unions are organising activities in support of the Palestinian people.

The NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, which has condemned Hamas’ acts of terror, also called on the federal Labor government to “support the innocent citizens of Gaza and do its part to urge the authorities to allow urgent relief, essential supplies and aid workers to enter Gaza safely and to ensure a safe passage for those fleeing the violence”.

It has been supported by 12 Labor MPs, 5 Greens MPs and even one Liberal MP.

Meanwhile thousands have signed petitions urging the federal government to work towards a ceasefire and provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets across the country, over consecutive weekends, and plan to continue to do this.

The Palestinian flag will be raised to express solidarity with the Palestinian people in several municipalities in the City of Sydney.

After PM Anthony Albanese announced he was not planning to visit Tel Aviv and support the extremist Israeli government, will Australian Zionists be prevented from participating in military operations around the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon?

There are many questions remaining regarding the government’s position.

Will Australia mediate to help Palestinian-Australians leave the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and southern Lebanon?

Will the government break ranks with the United States and Britain and call for a ceasefire?

Does the media have the right to promote extremist right-wing ideology that calls for all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to be killed and attacks those who call for a ceasefire and an end to the war?

Even SBS Arabic TV, a semi-government entity, has received direct threats in response to its promotion of solidarity with Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

[Khaled Ghannam is a Palestinian-Australian and a member of Socialist Alliance.]

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