Unconditional Gaza ceasefire needed now

The Israeli response in Gaza is disproportionate and with the firing of tanks and mortars into civilian areas, increasingly indiscriminate, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer.

“Eight children were killed in Gaza last night, they were playing in an area they believed to be safe.

“Israel says that no normal state would tolerate rockets being fired into their civilian areas. They are right, Hamas rockets are also indiscriminate.

“But it is also not normal for 1.6 million Palestinians to be blockaded into a narrow strip of land, a situation that aptly fits its description as the largest prison camp in the world.

“Around 1,100 Gazans have now been killed, the overwhelming majority of them civilians. Fifty Israelis have been killed, three civilians and the remainder, soldiers.

“There needs to be an immediate ceasefire, without conditions, to stop further unnecessary deaths. Both sides, without exception, need to stick to it. Only then can an ongoing settlement of the situation be arranged.

“Pressure needs to be brought to bear by the US, UN, European Union and Arab States on both sides to stop.

“That settlement must address the potential for future violence, but also the long term issues of the Gaza Strip.

“Gaza has 40% unemployment, a collapsed economy, food shortages and an infrequent electricity supply that sees untreated sewage piped into the sea.

“These conditions will inevitably sow the seeds for further conflict if they’re not resolved. Young people need hope, not a future of where fighting is considered normal,” says David Shearer.

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