South Africa & Turkey withdraw ambassadors to Israel: what will NZ do?

15 May

South Africa and Turkey have immediately withdrawn their ambassadors to Israel in protest at the latest mass killings of civilians in Gaza. Turkey’s president Erdogan condemned Israel as a ‘terrorist state’ and withdrew their ambassador from the US in protest as well. Meanwhile the US president Trump has celebrated the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem and both US and Israel have blamed Hamas for ‘the violence.’ NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned the ‘devastating one-sided loss of life’ (NewsHub today) but did not propose any action except to say that MFAT has ‘voiced its concerns’ with the Israeli ambassador on behalf of the government.

The NZ Palestine Solidarity Network (NZPSN) calls on the NZ Government to take action immediately and condemn Israel’s latest massacre of Palestinian protestors in Gaza and excessive force employed by Israeli troops against unarmed civilians, in the strongest possible terms, and also close down the Israeli Embassy in Wellington in protest.

The 58 reported deaths and 2771 injuries today have brought the casualty toll to over 100 Palestinians killed (including 12 children) and over 12,200 injured by Israel forces over the past seven weeks of ‘Great March of Return’ rallies – 53% by live ammunition. One Israeli soldier has reportedly been ‘slightly wounded’ to date. PM Ardern says MFAT has ‘voiced its concerns’ with the Israeli ambassador. Such a response is totally inadequate for the crimes which Israel is committing daily.

The Palestine Solidarity Network is organizing a protest rally at 2pm at Auckland’s Aotea Square this Saturday 19 May to express New Zealanders’ support for the Palestinian struggle for human rights and condemn Israeli atrocities.

Here are reports of some other responses to date:

  • Amnesty says Monday’s killings may constitute war crimes as UN committee calls for ‘immediate end to use of disproportionate force’


  • Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said “those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account,” while Human Rights Watch described the killings as a “bloodbath”.


  • The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said it was “gravely concerned” that many of those killed or injured during weeks of protests were reportedly posing no imminent threat when they were shot.


  • UN Human Rights Council on Monday, also called on Israel to “fully respect the norms of humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to lift the blockade of the Gaza strip”. It called on Israel to “put an immediate end to the disproportionate use of force against Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza strip, refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties and ensure prompt and unimpeded access to medical treatment to injured Palestinians”.


  • Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the killing of protesters was a crime that would only produce more violence.


  • Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “Egypt rejects the use of force against peaceful marches demanding legitimate and just rights, and warns of the negative consequences of this dangerous escalation in the occupied Palestinian territories.”


  • The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the US, condemned the Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, calling them a “massacre”. In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad, who is of Palestinian heritage, said: “We condemn this massacre of civilian protesters – including children, medical personnel and the disabled – who seek to shake the conscience of an international community that has long ignored or excused Israel’s past dispossession of the Palestinian people and its continuing occupation of those few who were able to survive in their ancestral land. “Perhaps this tragic mass killing – played out in full view of the world’s media – will spark a new call for justice similar to that sparked by the Soweto uprising against Apartheid.”


  • Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag also described Monday’s killings as a “massacre” and said the US shared the blame with Israel. “The US administration moving its embassy to Jerusalem destroyed the chances for peace and ignited a fire that will cause more human losses and injuries as well as destruction and catastrophe in the region,” Bozdag said. South Africa’s foreign ministry said that it had withdrawn its ambassador from Israel until further notice because of the “indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack”. “Like other members of the international community, South Africa is disturbed by the latest deadly aggression and reiterates calls made by several member states of the United Nations for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those who are responsible,” it said in a statement.


  • The European Union‘s high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini called on Israel to “respect the right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force”.


  • Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said: “This is another horrific example of the Israeli military using excessive force and live ammunition in a totally deplorable way. This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes.”


  • Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said that firing live ammunition at protesters showed “appalling indifference to human life on the part of senior Israeli government and military officials” and called for an immediate halt to the killing of protesters.


  • The NZ Green Party is strongly condemning the slaughter perpetrated by the Israeli armed forces in Gaza overnight following the opening of the new United States Embassy in Jerusalem, which has resulted in the murder of at least 52 civilians and over 2400 injured. This is the second deadly massacre of protestors perpetrated by the Israeli armed forces this year and is the deadliest onslaught in Gaza since 2014. “As predicted the opening of Donald Trump’s confrontational Embassy in Jerusalem has fanned flames of conflict and death,” said Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson. 
    “Israel’s ongoing siege on Gaza constitutes a breach of international law and has caused an unsustainable humanitarian crisis since 2009. The people of Gaza are a trapped population with no access to humanitarian aid or access to adequate healthcare or education. The Green Party is calling on Israel to end its siege on Gaza and its occupation of Palestinian Territories, and take positive steps towards an enduring peace in the region.”


  • On Tuesday, Ireland and Belgium summoned Israel’s ambassadors to express concern over the killings in Gaza and to call for an international inquiry.


  • In the UK, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn described the slaughter in Gaza as “an outrage that demands not just international condemnation, but action to hold those responsible to account.”


58 Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli troops today – 2771 injured. [24LiveBlog]

2 Responses to “South Africa & Turkey withdraw ambassadors to Israel: what will NZ do?”

  1. jag37777 May 15, 2018 at 7:35 pm #

    We all know that the NZ government will do nothing. A bit of symbolic handwringing for domestic consumption.

  2. seachranaidhe1 May 18, 2018 at 1:11 am #

    Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.

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