The eleven day bombardment of Gaza by the military forces of apartheid Israel came to an end on 21 May this year.
The attacks left 248 Palestinian civilians dead – a quarter of them children – while the death toll on the opposing side amounted to twelve Israeli deaths.
The Netanyahu government blamed Hamas for the conflict as it fired the first rockets, yet Israel neglected to mention that this was provoked by its police having cracked down on unarmed Palestinian worshipers with teargas and rubber bullets at al-Aqsa Mosque earlier that day.
The ceasefire, however, hasn’t stopped the Israeli persecution of Palestinians. Three weeks ago, Israeli forces again fired rubber bullets at the al-Aqsa complex to clear the site for Jewish pilgrims, while last weekend saw more airstrikes against Gaza.
And its due to Israel’s ongoing crimes against humanity – specifically those of apartheid and persecution – that one of the largest Australian human rights and international law petitions – containing 21,991 signatures – was presented to the federal House of Representatives on Monday.
Organised by a number of civil society groups, including the Federation of Italian Migrant Workers and Families (FILEF) and BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) Australia, the document calls on the Morrison government to impose sanctions upon the Israeli settler colonial state.
From the river to the sea
“Despite the many UNHRC resolutions condemning Israel’s actions in occupied Palestinian lands, Israel continues to disregard them and continues its aggressive war of occupation against Palestine,” said FILEF secretary and principal petitioner Bruno di Biase.
“This means that direct, nonviolent actions such as sanctions are the only option left to people and governments in order to achieve any positive actions towards peace and recognition of Palestine’s sovereignty by Israel,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers.
The key demands of petitioners include that the Australian government bans the import of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements that continue to be established in the occupied Palestinian territories in contravention of international law.
The document also asserts that our government impose targeted sanctions that involve the freezing of assets belonging to Israeli officials and entities that continue to breach international human rights laws, as well as the crimes against humanity that appear within Australian domestic law.
Supporting a criminal regime
Israeli forces began to take control of the lands within its borders in 1948. Known as the Nakba, the initial phase of the forced takeover of Palestine involved the displacement of more than 750,000 locals, who were pushed into refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza and neighbouring countries.
As the petitioners note, Australia has long supported Israel to the detriment of Palestinians.
Current PM Scott Morrison recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2018, in a divisive move that seemed an attempt to win votes in a NSW byelection and mimicked then US president Donald Trump.
And our nation has a history of voting against UN resolutions condemning Israeli actions towards Palestinians. In 2018, Australia blocked a UN Human Rights Council proposal to establish an independent inquiry into the massacre of 58 unarmed Palestinian protesters in May that year.
The Sanction Israel petition also demands that Australia imposes an arms embargo on the 73-year-old nation and further suspends all defence cooperation with it, including our facilitation of defence industry partnerships.
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Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He has a focus on human rights issues, encroachments on civil liberties, drug law reform, gender diversity and First Nations rights. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, he wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.