Creating new perspectives since 2009

New Zealanders petition Parliament, seek support for Gaza

March 28, 2024 at 5:39 pm

‘Beehive’ building at the New Zealand Parliament on Lambton Quay in downtown Wellington, New Zealand. [Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images]

Amid the ongoing onslaught by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza, a petition was moved in the New Zealand Parliament seeking support for the people in the besieged coastal enclave, Anadolu Agency reports.

“We call for the New Zealand government to fulfil its international legal obligations, and to demonstrate moral leadership to the rest of the world by supporting Palestinian human rights and denouncing Israeli war crimes,” read the petition which was handed over to Labour Party lawmaker, Phil Twyford, outside the Parliament in Wellington.

More than 16,000 people have signed the petition.

Recalling Wellington’s support for war-hit Ukrainians, Twyford said: “We created a special visa for the families of Ukrainian Kiwis so they could sponsor their families to escape the war zone. “To not do so for the people of Gaza is a disgraceful double standard.”

WATCH: Activists protest Toronto Mayor’s Iftar over Gaza war

Green Party co-leader, Chloe Swarbrick, backed the call and said her party supports such special visas for the people of Gaza.

Immigration Minister, Erica Stanford, has acknowledged that Gaza was undergoing an “unimaginable humanitarian crisis”.

But, she added, the situation in Gaza was different from that in Kyiv.

“Those people in Ukraine were able to leave. They were able to get on a plane and get to New Zealand. The situation in Gaza is that they cannot leave.

“I’m not going to be issuing visas, which is issuing false hope, for people on a great scale who cannot leave. “As and when the situation changes, we will reconsider our position,” she had said.

Twyford, the Labour Party lawmaker, said: “I reckon it is about time the National Government found its backbone and spoke for what is right in the way Kiwis expect.”

Petitioners have urged the government to immediately call for an unconditional and internationally-monitored ceasefire in Gaza as well as providing urgent humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

‘Religion used to fight a war that is fundamentally about land and power’

Nelson Rachel Boyack, another Labour lawmaker, called on chamberlains of “all faiths in Parliament to stand up for Palestine”.

“Our religion and our faith have been used to fight a war that is fundamentally about land and power. “I said in the House earlier this week in the debate that as a Christian, it pains me greatly to see other people of faith misuse their faith to kill and harm other people,” said Boyack, a Christian by faith.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Palestinian enclave since a 7 October cross-border attack by Hamas in which some 1,200 Israelis were killed.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Nearly 32,500 Palestinians have since been killed and over 74,900 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war, now in its 174th day, has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: UNICEF: Ceasefire in Gaza must be ‘substantive’ to end ‘darkest chapters’ of humanity