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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 4047

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (16:00): Last week the world witnessed a massacre. On 14 May, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 58 Palestinians who were protesting near the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel. Over 2,000 Palestinians were injured, including over 1,000 by live fire. This comes on the back of weeks of violence directed against protesters in which 116 Palestinians have been killed and 12,600 have been injured. The killings of protesters have met with condemnation and demonstrations around the world, including within Israel and in my electorate of Melbourne. Australia should be taking a stand. Not only has the Australian government refused to condemn the killing of over 100 civilians at the hands of armed soldiers, Australia this weekend became one of only two countries—along with Donald Trump's USA—to vote against a UN Human Rights Council resolution for an independent inquiry.

Those killed were participating in marches organised by Palestinian civil society groups to call for an end to the siege of Gaza and a right of return of Palestinian refugees. For 11 years severe restrictions on access to and from the Gaza Strip have devastated the population of nearly two million. According to Physicians for Human Rights, over 35 per cent of children suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and 59.7 per cent of Gaza schoolchildren suffer from anaemia. Forty-seven per cent of households suffer food insecurity.

Australia should be affirming the right to political activity and condemning the killing of protesters. Australia should be recognising the Palestinian state and pushing for an end to the siege of Gaza and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.