Govt must respond to Gaza - Greens

Green Party MP Keith Locke
Green Party MP Keith Locke
Green Party MP Keith Locke has called on the Government to issue a response to Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, following the deaths of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis.

[comment caption=Do you think the Government should get involved?]The National-led Government had issued no formal statement since Israel began air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Saturday, and the Foreign Affairs Ministry website had nothing on the crisis, Mr Locke said.

Israel unleashed a massive bombardment following the end of a six-month ceasefire on December 19, aimed at weakening Hamas and in response to persistent rocket fire from the enclave.

"Of course, we want both sides to stop the violence. But the pressure should be focused on Israel, which is causing such massive destruction and 99 percent of the casualties," Mr Locke said.

Israeli rockets have targeted government buildings, mosques, universities, police stations and other civilian buildings in the deadliest conflict in Gaza in four decades.

Israel has said militants were using some holy sites to hoard weapons and as command centres, and that other buildings were linked to Hamas military operations.

Both sides have rejected calls from the European Union for an immediate ceasefire.

"New Zealand should be providing some moral leadership amid an insipid response from other Western nations," Mr Locke said.

"It also makes a mockery of New Zealand's participation in a 'war on terror' to allow such obvious state terrorism to pass without comment."

Labour foreign affairs spokeswoman Helen Clark said on Monday that the loss of life and the toll of injury and trauma in Gaza was horrific.

"While Hamas rocket attacks on Israel can never be condoned and have been provocative, nonetheless Israel has further jeopardised the security of its own people through its disproportionate use of force in retaliation," Ms Clark said.

She endorsed the UN Security Council call for a ceasefire.

New Zealand needed to increase its aid to Gaza, given the situation of the people there, Mr Locke said.

About a quarter of Palestinian casualties were civilians, according to United Nations estimates.

"New Zealand is getting left behind by Australia, which has just announced it is giving an extra $A5 million ($NZ6.1 million) in humanitarian aid to Gaza."

The Australian federal government has also said it was deeply saddened by the loss of life in Gaza, and called for an immediate halt to the violence.

Israel has denied that there is a humanitarian crisis in the area.

Hamas is an Islamist paramilitary organisation and political party that won a Palestinian parliamentary election in 2006, and declares itself committed to destroying Israel.

While it has also said it would accept a Palestinian state in the lands captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 war in return for a long-term truce, Hamas has rejected calls to recognise the Jewish state and disarm.

It won a brief civil war in 2007 in the Gaza Strip against the secular Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas sacked the Hamas government and appointed his own in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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