- A UN special rapporteur has likened the situation in Gaza to the 1948 Nakba in a public address in Australia.
- Francesca Albanese has accused Western nations of “muttering” condemnation of Israel.
- Israel’s supporters have hosted a vigil for more the than 200 hostages seized by Hamas.
Israel is carrying out a televised repeat of the 1948 ‘Nakba’ “on our watch” and the United Nations is “experiencing its most epic political and humanitarian failure since its creation”, a key United Nations spokesperson says.
Speaking to the National Press Club on Tuesday, UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories Francesca Albanese has accused Western nations, including Australia, of “muttering” condemnation of Israel, or staying silent in fear of “restraining [its] claimed right to self-defence”.
Albanese spared some of her most pointed criticism for the media, which she said was often “manipulative” and had contributed to the dehumanisation of Palestinians.
Israel has bombarded Gaza since Hamas’ 7 October attack in which more than 1,400 people were killed and over 200 hostages taken, according to the Israeli government. More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, according to the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza.
More than 11,000 people have been killed by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza since 7 October, according to the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Albanese said the international community was “almost completely paralysed” in its response to the bombardment.
“I am being generous when I say almost … the UN [is] experiencing its most epic political and humanitarian failure since its creation,” she said.
“Individual member states, especially in [the] West — and Australia is no exception — are on the margins, muttering inaudible words of condemnation for Israel’s excesses at best.
“Or staying silent in fear of restraining Israel’s … claimed right to self-defence, whatever it means.”
Albanese likened the bombardment of Gaza to the displacement of Palestinians in 1948, known to Palestinians as . She said the Palestinians faced their most “significant existential threat” and raised the prospect of the “wholesale destruction” of Gaza.
“If in 75 years time the international community has still to realise what the ‘Nakba’ is: Here’s what it is, televised, under our watch,” she said.
“The current reality epitomises how the international community has so epically failed to promote peace and security for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
SBS News has contacted the Israeli embassy for comment.
Wong too busy to meet me, says Albanese
Albanese revealed she had sought a meeting with Foreign Minister Penny Wong, but would be meeting “someone else … [because] I understand she is very busy”.
SBS News has approached Wong’s office, and the office of assistant foreign minister Tim Watts, for comment.
Wong has repeatedly acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas, but stressed its duty to protect civilian lives under international law.
Francesca Albanese said she had sought a sit down with Foreign Minister Penny Wong, but was told the minister was too busy to meet with her. Source: AAP / Lukas Coch
On Sunday, Wong urged Israel to cease targeting hospitals in Gaza, and , while accepting that would require support from both sides.
“This is what I call amnesia and myopia and living in an alternative reality. Because again, before the 7 October, there was already plenty of evidence of violations of international law,” Albanese said.
Albanese queried Israel’s assertion that its response was self-defence under international law, saying it had been threatened by an armed group operating under territory it occupied, and not a stand-alone state.
She compared the situation to the 2015 Paris attack, carried out by an Islamic State cell operating from neighbouring Belgium.
“Did France go and bomb entire residential areas in Belgium? No,” she said.
“I know we’re used to thinking that the Palestinians can be bombed over and over, but it is wrong.”
Albanese said journalists had enabled a perception that calls for Palestinian basic rights posed a threat to Israel’s existence, describing some elements of Australia’s media as being “as manipulative as those in Italy”, her home country.
“Many of these tropes resonate so strongly in this country as well. Unconscionably, this is also harming the Jews around the world. The Jews in Australia as well find themselves targeted because they are associated as due to the actions of Israel,” she said.
“This requires a re-humanisation of the discourse, and I am so happy to speak to journalists, because you have a great deal of homework to do in this respect.”
Vigil for Israeli hostages outside Parliament
Earlier on Tuesday morning, supporters of Israel hosted a vigil outside Parliament House for the more than 200 Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on 7 October.
Organisers said the plight of the hostages had not been centred in coverage, laying out hundreds of pictures and balloons to mark each victim.
Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon and a host of Coalition figures — including foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham and deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley — were present to speak to attendees.
News Corp reported that Ley said those present rejected a ceasefire as a solution to the conflict.
“The answer is to destroy a terrorist organisation,” she said, referring to Hamas.
Hamas is a Palestinian military and political group, which has gained power in the Gaza Strip since winning legislative elections there in 2006. Its stated aim is to establish a Palestinian state, while refusing to recognise Israel’s right to exist.
Hamas, in its entirety, is designated as a terrorist organisation by countries including Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. Other countries, such as New Zealand and Paraguay, list only its military wing as a terrorist group.
In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly voted against a resolution condemning Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist organisation.