Politics | Palestine

Far North District Council calls for ceasefire in Gaza

Mayor Moko Tepania and his Far North District Council passed a motion calling foran immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip this morning.

Tepania told Te Ao Māori News the decision was a response to calls from the people of the Far North to show the sort of leadership they’d seen from other councils.

The mayor acknowledged Waiheke Local Board, Christchurch City Council Environment Canterbury and Whanganui District Council had all taken steps that Tepania said led the way for them.

“It’s really important although it’s such a small gesture from a small provincial district here in New Zealand. It’s a gesture to show that you know we support what’s tika, pono, and aroha, of what’s right and true and to show empathy for the horrific realities of life for people living in Gaza.”

The motion called on Prime Minister Chris Luxon and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters to show their support and to call for peace; for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, for immediate international aid to be allowed into Gaza and to condemn all acts of violence and terror against civilians.

The motion also calls for the immediate return of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. The motion was seconded by councilor Hilda Halkyard Harawira.

Starvation in Gaza

Meanwhile, the UN’s leading expert on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, declared Israel to be intentionally starving Palestinians as a war campaign. Yesterday the United Nations Relief and Works Agency tweeted to say food distributions had been suspended.

The United States has given billions of dollars worth of military support to Israel. And recently The Independent reported Joe Biden and his administration have been accused by their own experts and aid agencies of being complicit in the famine in Gaza by disregarding repeated warnings.

In New Zealand, a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Network in Aotearoa, Wiliam Alexander is on his sixth day of a hunger strike for Gaza. Today he visited Wellington with a request to meet Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Minister Winston Peters to discuss his demands.

Alexander wants humanitarian funding returned and doubled to UNRWA. He also wants an Auckland listed company, Rakon, which supplies components to Israeli firms to stop supplying components used in weapons. However, Newshub has reported that, although Rakon produces technology for the defence sector, the company doesn’t supply products to Israel for military end-use. Alexander’s third request is to withdraw New Zealand military from the Red Sea.

ICC seek warrants of arrest

On Monday, the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan announced he was seeking warrants of arrest for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for international crimes.

“The crimes include the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, willfully causing great suffering, serious injury to body or health or cruel treatment, willful killing or murder and intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population, as well as crimes against humanity, or extermination and or murder, persecution, and allegations of crimes of committing other inhumane acts,” Khan said. “Unfortunately, these crimes continue to this day.”

The court is also seeking the arrest of three leaders of Hamas.

The ‘state’ of Palestine

Today the BBC reported Ireland, Norway, and Spain will formally recognise the state of Palestine from May 28.

Attacks on the fourth estate

Meanwhile, pro-Palestine supporters believe the many deaths of journalists In Gaza is an attack on the free press.

Last year Kawea Te Rongo, the independent Māori Journalists Association released a statement of solidarity with Gaza journalists. They condemned the killing of journalists and called on the protection of press to uphold the fourth estate. At the time between 39 and 45 journalists had died but list has now grown to 105.

On May 11 Justice for Palestine organised a vigil in Miland Park, Wellington, which marked the two-year anniversary of the death of Shireen Abu Akleh - a Palestinian-American journalist who was shot dead by an Israeli soldier while covering a raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Ajkleh was wearing a blue press vest.

Tomorrow night, May 24, outside the Voyager Media awards, People for Palestine and Palestinian Youth Aotearoa are holding a silent vigil to honour the journalists of Gaza. They will be holding up 105 blue press vests to recognise the 105 journalists killed so far.

Palestinian New Zealander and People for Palestine spokesperson Yasmine Serhan said in a statement, “While it is my people being subjected to mass murder and ethnic cleansing in the Gaza Strip, it is the peers of New Zealand journalists who are being systematically targeted and murdered by Israel in an attempt to stop the truth being reported. Every day the journalists of Gaza report on and provide footage of the international war crimes being committed by Israel. Just by doing their job and fulfilling this vital role, 105 journalists have paid with their lives in Gaza.’

“The murdered journalists of Gaza are no different to the journalists of Aotearoa in their pursuit of telling the truth. I ask that all New Zealand journalists honor those who have lost their lives and stand in solidarity with their peers still reporting from Gaza by calling on Israel to uphold international law and stop the systematic targeting and murder of any more Gazan journalists and their families.”

On May 5 the Israeli government shut down Al Jazeera operations inside Israel. This week Israel also shut down and seized broadcasting equipment from Associated Press. The news organisation was accused of violating a new media law in supplying images to Al Jazeera. Hours later the decision was reversed.