The Australian Government notes with deep concern the unfolding tragedy in Gaza.
Many Palestinian civilians have lost their lives along with a growing number of Israeli
soldiers and civilians.
The Australian Government supports Israel’s right to defend itself from the attacks of
Hamas and other militants. No country should have to tolerate arbitrary and
indiscriminate attacks upon its civilian population by rocket fire and infiltration through tunnels.
However, in exercising its right to self-defence, Israel must take all necessary steps
to prevent civilian casualties.
I am deeply troubled by the suffering being endured by the Palestinian population in
Gaza, where many hundreds of innocent people have been killed, including women
and children. There have been a number of shocking incidents, including the
indefensible shelling of three UN schools, all of which were sheltering civilians.
Australia supports calls for a full investigation into these incidents. Both sides must
respect international humanitarian law.
Hamas has failed to embrace a series of opportunities to end the conflict, most
recently through its almost immediate violation of a humanitarian ceasefire negotiated for 1 August.
This was a flagrant violation of an agreement reached with UN and US mediation and demonstrated
a callous disregard for the welfare of the people of Gaza.
The violence must stop as soon as possible. I welcome the announcement of a 72-
hour humanitarian ceasefire to commence later today. Israel and Hamas must fully
commit to and implement this humanitarian pause. Then the priority must be to reach
a permanent ceasefire agreement that brings an end to the killing and recrimination.
All efforts must be directed at these objectives.
The Australian Government commends the efforts of the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency (UNRWA) and others to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to those
impacted by the conflict. To respond to growing humanitarian needs, I
announced on 28 July that Australia would provide $5 million for urgent humanitarian
assistance to Gaza, which is in addition to our existing commitment of $56.5 million for
2014-15 for development assistance to the Palestinian territories.
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