Gaza ground offensive can only result in more deaths

Israel’s decision to continue with a ground offensive into Gaza can only result in more civilian deaths and push a ceasefire further beyond reach, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.

“There is no such thing as a surgical strike with a tank. I have witnessed ground offensives in Gaza: it is inevitable that more civilians will die.

“The conflict was able to pause for five hours yesterday to enable humanitarian supplies to reach Palestinian civilians. That truce gave some hope that a longer ceasefire is possible.

“Both sides need to engage in the negotiations that are ongoing in Egypt. They should redouble efforts to reach a ceasefire. A negotiated settlement is what is urgently needed, not an escalation of the violence.

“More than 230 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge. The great majority have been civilians. Four young boys were killed while playing on a Gaza beach yesterday.

“The conflict that began ten days ago has so far resulted in 1960 Israeli airstrikes and destroyed 1300 Gazan homes. Hamas, that controls Gaza, has fired around 1400 rockets hitting areas deeper into Israel than earlier conflicts and seriously worrying the Israeli people.

“Israel’s actions are contrary to international humanitarian law, as are Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israeli civilian areas.

“Ultimately the confinement of Gaza’s 1.5 million people into a strip of land 35km by 8km is unsustainable. The Gazan economy has collapsed and hope for a better life has been eroded. A long term solution is needed,” David Shearer says.