As the situation continues to escalate and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip worsens, the ACTU calls on the Australian government working through the United Nations to increase pressure for an immediate ceasefire and an end to all violent hostilities.
“Loss of life serves no purpose and does not advance the cause of peace in the Middle East” said Sharan Burrow, President of the ACTU and of the International Confederation of Trade Unions.
“A peaceful resolution is the only way forward. Israel’s military actions cannot eliminate Hamas, which won elections in 2006, nor can Hamas make any progress for Palestinian rights by firing rockets into Israeli communities.”
“The people suffering from Israel’s military actions and Hama’s rockets are working people who live in Gaza and the Sdert region of Israel.”
The ACTU has long supported the international trade union movement’s stance in favour of a genuine internationally-backed negotiation process for a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Ms Burrow said the ACTU applauded the Palestinian and Israeli trade unions in their efforts for peace, for decent work, sustainable jobs and livelihoods, and for social and political rights for workers living in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
She said the international community rarely acknowledges the weekly efforts of community groups in towns and villages across the region, in pursuit of peace.
One-and-a-half million people live in the Gaza Strip, half of them children, and two-thirds of them refugees under UN protection.
The ACTU’s international aid agency, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, has for the past two years been sending funds to the MA’AN Development Center in Gaza for emergency food support for the most vulnerable households.
In addition to food parcels, families are given seeds, chickens and rabbits, and supplies so they can produce fresh protein and fresh vegetables at home. Funds have been sent to El Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital in southern Gaza, which has rapidly increasing caseload of people with serious injuries and disabilities.
“The people of Gaza who have been suffering so long without food, fuel, water and medicines, and without the ability to travel outside their enclave, must be able to receive essential humanitarian supplies from the United Nations and the international community,” Ms Burrow said.
She said a solution to bring about a lasting peace will only become possible if there is a willingness for dialogue and creating a ceasefire is the necessary first step.
“The loss of life by innocent civilians in Gaza and in Israel must come to an end,” Ms Burrow said.