Codepink activists, dressed to symbolise those wounded and
killed in Gaza, rally outside the Israeli Embassy in
Washington. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Prime Minister John Key says the rising civilian death
toll in Gaza and apparent bombing of United Nations-run schools
is "a blot on the world as we know it".
This afternoon political parties joined Mr Key is calling for
an immediate ceasefire and a long-term solution between
Israel and Hamas -- though Mr Key said further action such as
sanctions was unlikely.
He said most of the 1300 people killed in fighting between
the two regions were civilians.
"These are people that just can't get out of harm's way. I
think for most people watching this they would just say it's
"You've got young children, you've got families - this is a
situation which has to end and common sense has got to
His comments followed reports of further attacks on UN-run
schools in Gaza where displaced people were seeking refuge.
Amnesty International described the latest school bombing --
which killed 20 people -- as a possible war crime that
required independent investigation.
United Nations officials said it was a disgrace to the world;
the UN said it told Israel the position of the school 17
times to ensure it was not targeted.
The strike is the sixth attack on a UN-run school in Gaza
since Operation "Protective Edge" began on July 8.
Asked about the apparent targeting of schools, Mr Key said:
"If they are, it's very worrying. I don't have all the facts
… but I just know well over 1300 people have lost their
lives. It's a blot on the world as we currently know it and
it's got to end."
He said Israel's argument that people could get out of harm's
way if they were given notice was "a bit flawed in its logic"
because most of the affected people were refugees who had
nowhere to go.
But he stopped short of singling out Israel for condemnation,
saying that both sides needed to cease their attacks and find
a long-term solution.
"People can say disproportionately … Israel has better
capability and more force. But in principle both sides really
have to stop."
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer, who used to
work in Israel for the UN, said Israel's attacks were
disproportionate and indiscriminate.
Gaza was essentially a prison camp for Palestinians with 40
per cent unemployment, collapsed infrastructure and food
shortages, he said.
"These conditions will inevitably sow the seeds for further
conflict if they're not resolved.
"It is not normal for 1.6 million Palestinians to be
blockaded into a narrow strip of land, a situation that aptly
fits its description as the largest prison camp in the
Green Party global affairs spokesperson Kennedy Graham called
on the Government to condemn Israel and consider expelling
its ambassador to send a strong message.
"We understand that the Israel-Palestine situation is highly
complex and that Israel has certain rights as a UN member
state, but its bombardment of Gaza in the past few weeks
violates the laws of humanity and has to stop."
Dr Graham was meeting with Israeli ambassador Yosef Livne
tomorrow to convey his views.
The attack on the UN school came a day after the Gaza Strip's
sole power plant was struck and badly damaged.
Philip Luther, Amnesty International director of the Middle
East and North Africa programme, said there was no
justification for targeting a civilian structure.
"The strike on the power plant, which cut off electricity and
running water to Gaza's residents and numerous hospitals, has
catastrophic humanitarian implications and is very likely to
amount to a war crime."
Mr Key said it was difficult to impose sanctions unless the
UN Security Council made a resolution.
Asked about the US role in the conflict, he said Barrack
Obama's administration appeared to be "more reserved" in its
support of Israel compared to previous administrations.
- Derek Cheng and Isaac Davison of the NZ Herald