Sydney Condemns Israel’s Colonial Crimes, as the Genocide Resumes in Gaza

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Sydney Condemns Israel

Israel got back to defending itself last Friday, which euphemism our PM Anthony Albanese likes to use to describe the wholesale massacre of the walled-in Palestinian population of Gaza, which is a tactic that provides the Netanyahu government carte blanche as it continues with genocidal intent.

The Gaza Health Ministry announced on Sunday that more than 15,000 majority civilian and unarmed Palestinians have been purposefully exterminated in an ongoing landgrab known locally as the Nakba.

Over 6,000 children have been cleared off the parcel of land also known as The Strip.

And tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters converged on Sydney’s Hyde Park for the seventh Sunday straight to oppose the onslaught in Gaza, which sees one of the most advanced militaries carpet bombing and invading a region crippled by a 16 year goods and person blockade.

Palestinian woman Reem Burrows address the rally in Hyde Park North
Palestinian woman Reem Burrows address the rally in Hyde Park North

Last Sunday’s gathering differed, however, from those of past in that a week-long negotiated truce that had enabled the exchange of detainees had just come to an end on 1 December, which means Tel Aviv is once more continuing its annihilation program in the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, the ongoing settler colonial invasion of Gaza, which recommenced after 50 days of the unbridled killing of a captive population laid siege for over a decade, with the rest of the globe watching and western allied leadership nodding in approval, is unprecedented in living memory.

A familiar looking tin man with no heart
A familiar looking tin man with no heart

The right to life

“The Nakba in 1948 altered our identity and by the time I was born, I could no longer call myself Palestinian,” said Sydney-based consultant Reem Burrows. “We lived as second-class citizens at best. We have been facing displacement and injustices that the world has denied for decades.”

“Fast forward to 2023 and Palestinians are still being forcibly uprooted and brutalised all over the country, from the river to the sea,” explained the Palestinian woman, who was born in the city of Haifa, in the Galilee region of the north.

According to Burrows, the 2.1 million Palestinians living in Israel have “65 laws working against them directly or indirectly”, which include the 2018 amendments to the basic law that bestowed the right to self-determination only to Jewish citizens and determined Arabic a secondary language.

The Palestinian Australian added that millions of her people are living under what’s “considered the harshest occupation of modern times” in the occupied West Bank.

The setter violence in the West Bank had been steadily increasing under the late-2022-elected far-right government prior to the killing in Gaza. In fact, over 240 Palestinians have been killed in that section of the occupied territories since 7 October, with entire villages having fled persecution.

“All we are calling for is an immediate and permanent ceasefire in principle,” Burrows stressed. “For us, it is not a time to be silent. It is a time to do what is right. We are facing a humanitarian crisis and a breach of international law. Our plea is so simple, all we are asking for is to be treated equally.”

A sign that says it all
A sign that says it all

A dubious military operation

Following the deadly 7 October Hamas incursions into Israel, Tel Aviv unleashed a systematic ethnic cleansing program focused on sections of the 40-odd-kilometre-long Gaza Strip, commencing in the north and working south, with the aim being to destroy all life and public infrastructure.

Israel has targeted civilians, including children, entire neighbourhoods, as well as water and sewage facilities, bakeries, hospitals and schools. The operation has successfully turned northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape and now the Netanyahu government has its eye on the south.

In October, a leaked Israeli government document revealed contemplation of a strategy that would see Gaza occupied and its 2.3 million Palestinians pushed into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The New York Times has just reported that Israel knew of the 7 October plan for a year but dismissed its viability.

The world has watched on in horror as Israel has attacked numerous Palestinian hospitals, which reached a peak when Israeli Defence Force troops stormed northern Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, based on the pretext that it was a Hamas headquarters.

But the main Hamas command centre had already been found at another location, and former Israeli PM Ehud Barak also told CNN that the tunnels and bunkers that supposedly housed the Palestinian militia under the hospital were built by Israel during its occupation of Gaza between 1967 to 2005.

Last Friday saw Israel drop leaflets in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis, where Tel Aviv had previously directed those in the north to flee to. And these documents warned Palestinians to move further south to the city of Rafah, which is the site of the closed border crossing with Egypt.

Sheikh Wesam Charkawi
Sheikh Wesam Charkawi

Complicity watching on

Sheikh Wesam Charkawi addressed the 3 December Hyde Park crowd, as he sent a message to NSW premier Chris Minns, stating that the protesters hope to see him “as a one term premier”, whilst he also condemned federal education minister Jason Clare’s proposal to “turn down the heat” locally.

Charkawi questioned which moral code sanctioned the mass killing of tens of thousands, including 6,000 children. And he made clear that the protests are an expression of the rejection of the Israeli move to commit genocide, whilst Jason Clare has called these protests “awful”.

The NSW premier has also condemned local demonstrations, which is in line with a broader criminalisation of pro-Palestinians agitators across the western world that has, at its most extreme, cast these outpourings of human rights sentiment as somehow antisemitic in nature.

However, sweeping aside the mainstream propaganda line that seeks to demonise these protests calling for a stop to a military crusade that aims to destroy an entire people, the idea that these demonstrations are somehow against the adherents of the Jewish faith is ridiculous.

The outpouring of pro-Palestinian sentiment is against the late 19th century emergence of the ideology of Zionism, which is a European construct that seeks to establish a Jewish homeland, known as Israel, in Palestine.

This has nothing to do with the Jewish religion itself, and the massive outpouring of Jewish opposition globally to the Netanyahu government’s genocidal military operation in Gaza is clear evidence that antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same animal.

A massive outpouring
A massive outpouring

“In the year 2021, the International Criminal Court, the ICC, formally commenced legal proceedings to investigate Israel for its war crimes as a state, and what is interesting is that Australia is a participant and member of the ICC,” Sheikh Wesam continued.

“How are you a member, on the one hand, of the ICC formally prosecuting Israel as a terrorist state and for war crimes, yet you articulate and say, ‘We stand in solidarity with Israel?’” he asked the Australian authorities in conclusion.

“If you think your doubletalk will get you across the line, think again.”

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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