Standing up for what’s right

Finally, New Zealand Inc. is taking a stand, saying enough is enough when it comes to the terrible war dragging on between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group.

This week, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon joined forces with Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese and Canadian leader Justin Trudeau to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

The three prime ministers said the need for the ceasefire was urgent. They also made it plain it could not be one-sided and would require Hamas to disarm and release all remaining hostages taken in the October 7 atrocity.

The leaders went further, saying they are "gravely concerned" about the Israeli military’s planned offensive in Rafah in southern Gaza and urged Israel to pull back on that.

They also reminded Israel’s leaders of the recent International Court of Justice ruling that Israel had an obligation to protect all civilians and allow the delivery of essential services and assistance.

The war has killed tens of thousands of innocent people and is causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The planned strike into Rafah by the Israeli military is particularly distressing.

Rafah lies on the border with Egypt at the southwestern tip of the Gaza Strip. More than a million Palestinians from elsewhere in Gaza have been forced into Rafah after fleeing Israeli bombardments further north.

There is nowhere left for them to go, other than to surge through the border into Egypt, which would create further huge problems in the Middle East by breaching an existing peace treaty.

This is more than just a series of bloody battles between a nation and Palestinian terrorists. To many, it appears that Israel’s far-Right prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared war on Palestinians and does not care whether they live or die.

Israel, of course, has both a right to be angry and to defend itself after the appalling terrorist incursion and kidnappings last October. About 1150 people were killed by Hamas fanatics, and another 253 Israelis and others kidnapped, of whom more than 100 have been released.

Hundreds of protesters marched to the Octagon calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine...
Hundreds of protesters marching to the Octagon calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict in Gaza and the West Bank on 16 December, 2023. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
According to The Guardian, more than 28,500 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military action, more than 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced and more than half of the region’s infrastructure has been destroyed.

As far as Netanyahu is concerned, all Palestinians are potentially shelterers of Hamas extremists. Even hospitals appear to be legitimate targets for his fury.

Israel, under his unsavoury and war-mongering leadership, is becoming ever more isolated and shunned by much of the world.

Even the United States, such a staunch and crucial ally of Israel through seemingly thick and thin, has lost patience with his rhetoric and lust for revenge.

It is a difficult position for the US to be in. Looking at things rationally, it is probably better for the world that Israel has one friend, a big friend which can exert considerable pressure for it to change its behaviour. Without any friends, who knows what Israel under Netanyahu might be capable of?

The Israeli leader has his own reasons for attempting to divert attention from his affairs. He is highly likely to be kicked out of office in any elections when this war is over and is involved in court proceedings over several corruption charges.

The ceasefire call from Luxon, Albanese and Trudeau comes at the same time as comments from Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who said the "level of inhumanity is out of all proportion now".

New Zealand expected the international court’s decisions, even provisional ones, be adhered to. What was happening was "out of hand".

We do not need reminding we are a small country tucked away at the bottom of the world with, let us be realistic, not a great deal of influence over larger nations. However, New Zealand has a proud record of standing up for what is right and being in the vanguard of moves to do the right thing, morally and ethically.

Luxon, and his colleagues and counterparts, are to be congratulated for their missive. Every bit of common sense and philanthropic concern needs to be brought to bear to help solve this seemingly intractable, and totally repugnant, conflict.