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Australia: PM reiterates opposition to Israeli military operation in Rafah

May 9, 2024 at 10:37 am

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Sydney on May 1, 2024 [GAYE GERARD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reiterated today his country’s opposition to Israel’s military operation in Rafah. Speaking to reporters in Melbourne, Albanese said that his government has communicated its opposition to the ground offensive in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. He voiced concern over the civilian population in Rafah, most of whom were displaced after Israel’s bombing of Gaza.

“They [Palestinian civilians] were told to move from the northern part of Gaza, they were told to move south. You then have a very crowded population, and you also have a crowded population that is not clear where they are supposed to go, given the destruction that’s occurred to housing in other parts of Gaza,” said Albanese. “So, we are very concerned about that. And my government’s position is very clear, and it’s been a long-standing position of the Australian Government to support a two-state solution.”

On Wednesday, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong also added her voice to the growing opposition to the Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, warning that the impact of the operation will be “devastating.” She said that her country has been clear about its objections to a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah. “We have reiterated this to Israel again today [Wednesday].”

The Israeli army seized control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt on Tuesday, a vital route for humanitarian aid into the besieged territory.

READ: Israel attacks Spanish minister who spoke about genocide in Gaza

This came a day after the army issued immediate evacuation orders for Palestinians in eastern Rafah, which is where more than 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have taken refuge from the war launched by Israel in October, ostensibly to destroy the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, after its 7 October attack on southern Israel. Although around 1,200 Israelis were killed on that day, many were actually killed by Israel Defence Forces tanks and helicopters, not Hamas fighters, according to reports in Israeli media. Just over 250 hostages were taken back to Gaza.

The occupation state’s subsequent military offensive has to-date killed 35,000 Palestinians, most of them children and women, and wounded 70,000 more. An estimated 8-10,000 Palestinians are missing, presumed dead, under the rubble of their homes destroyed by Israel.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lie in ruins, pushing 85 per cent of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, the UN has pointed out.

The occupation state stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which it denies. 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. South Africa, which took the apartheid state to the ICJ, has since claimed that Israel is ignoring the court’s ruling.