Fuseworks Media

Government called out over Gaza and asked to act now

New Zealand Palestinians who have had family killed in Gaza, peace advocates and politicians will present a petition to Parliament on Thursday urging the Government to stand up for the people of Gaza who are suffering a humanitarian crisis with over 32,000 killed and many more suffering from starvation and disease.

Almost 16,000 people signed the petition calling on the Government to fulfil its legal obligations to provide humanitarian aid and stop war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Palestinian New Zealander Katrina Mitchell-Kouttab started the petition to speak out against the killings in Gaza, which include members of her family killed in the Israeli bombing of the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius on 20 October, last year.

“The Government’s muted response is inadequate and unacceptable in the face of so much visible suffering,” says Mitchell-Kouttab.

New Zealand is obliged to support the orders of the International Court of Justice. This includes the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza and that Israel takes all measures in its power to prevent genocide.

Our Government’s obligations under international humanitarian law also include preventing the direct targeting of civilians, taking of hostages, use of “human shields”, and engaging in indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

“Right now, New Zealand is running the risk of violating its duty under international law by failing to exercise its influence to stop an ongoing genocide,” says Mitchell-Kouttab.

“There are also double standards at play with New Zealand’s historical responses to war and war crimes, and its approach to humanitarian visas, which Palestinians have been denied by Immigration Minister Erica Stanford”.

Mitchell-Kouttab will also join the Palestinian community, Common Grace Aotearoa, and members of the public on a 41km (the length of Gaza) Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage from Taitā to Kilbirnie, stopping at Parliament to hand in the petition. The pilgrimage is part of a global movement in 173 cities bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities in response to a call by Christian leaders in Palestine to respond to the devastation in Gaza.

Advocates will present a combined Māori and Palestinian flag designed by Aucklander Sonny Nathan, to Te Pāti Māori. An olive tree will be presented to Green Party MPs, commemorating those who have died in Gaza and the environmental devastation in Palestine.

The four core demands Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimages are calling for are:

1. Enduring and sustained ceasefire.

2. Immediate flow of life saving food, water, aid, fuel, and humanitarian assistance.

3. Release of all hostages – both the Israeli hostages held by Hamas – and the Palestinian hostages held in the Israeli prison system.

4. End of the occupation so a just-peace can begin.

In addition, the pilgrimage here in Pōneke is calling for the New Zealand Government to allow family members of Gazans living in Aotearoa to have access to humanitarian visas.

Attendees at Parliament

– Phil Twyford, Labour Party

– Rachel Boyack, Labour Party

– Chlöe Swarbrick, Green Party (tbc)

– Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Te Pāti Māori

– Ricardo Menéndez March, Green Party

– Julie-Ann Genter, Green Party

– Bishop Justin Duckworth, Anglican Bishop of Wellington

– Palestinian Youth Aotearoa

– New Zealand Arab Association

– Aotearoa Christians for Peace in Palestine

– Justice for Palestine

– Dayenu (Jews against the occupation)

– Various unions and NGOs


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