Human rights groups are calling on Australia to stop its push to expand trade with Israel as the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories takes a turn for the worse.
the Australian Centre for International Justice and the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council argue that Australia needs to drop the negotiations as Israel continues a deadly bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
The aggression, which began last week, has so far killed more than 72 Palestinians, including women and children. Dozens more have been injured. Palestinian militias have also fired hundreds of rockets into Israeli cities, killing six.
Trade between Australia and Israel stands at about $1.3 billion. Australia’s exports about $345 million 8n goods to Israel every year and imports $1.02 billion.
The Australian Centre for International Justice and the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council argued that the government “must not neglect major human rights concerns, and Australia’s obligations and responsibilities under international law.”
The call on Australian officials to urgently review all trade with Israel and “implement effective measures to protect the Palestinian people’s fundamental human rights.”
Raji Sourani, director of the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, called for Australia to “change track” and condemn Israel’s actions.
“The situation is bleak, it’s unprecedented,” Sourani said. “Even in the numerous tragic and military assaults we have been subjected to in the past, Israel has launched the worst attack ever.”
Rawan Arraf, the Australian Centre for International Justice’s executive director, said Australia was rewarding Israel with free trade despite its atrocities against civilians.
“Over several years, the Australian government has adopted an adverse and harmful approach to Palestinian human rights, whether that’s at the UN or its appalling intervention at the international criminal court at the request of the Israeli government, to prevent investigations into international crimes in Palestine,” she said.
The Australian government has in the past days called on both sides to de-escalate. It has not, however, addressed the concerns put forth by human rights groups.