I join the calls of my Greens colleagues in this chamber and the millions around the world who are calling for an urgent and permanent ceasefire. Nothing could be as urgent as ending the senseless killing of the people of Gaza. I want to recognise the extraordinary resilience of the people in Gaza, particularly the journalists who, while their world is being destroyed around them, are telling the story of the Palestinian people
Senator SHOEBRIDGE (New South Wales) (16:47): I join the calls of my Greens colleagues in this chamber and the millions around the world who are calling for an urgent and permanent ceasefire. Nothing could be as urgent as ending the senseless killing of the people of Gaza. I want to recognise the extraordinary resilience of the people in Gaza, particularly the journalists who, while their world is being destroyed around them, are telling the story of the Palestinian people. They are empowering calls for a ceasefire by showing in real time the horrific atrocities being carried out against them, their families and their neighbourhoods.
These brave journalists are now known by their first names by many of us around the world who follow to understand what’s happening on the ground in Gaza in the face of mainstream media who are too often disappointing at best. Bisan Owda usually begins her videos saying, ‘I’m still alive.’ She’s a filmmaker and storyteller who has stepped up in this awful moment to raise the voices of her people. Just a few hours ago she posted a video of artillery trails in the sky above where she is in the south of Gaza, the supposedly safe area.
Plestia Alaqad tells us the stories of not only the war but also the children in her neighbourhood, the longing for the time before the violence and her love of Gaza. She has stood in Gaza and has shown the impact of not just the bombs but the flooding of the temporary camps, the lack of food, the danger as the weather turns colder and the psychological effects of hearing bombs and bombs for weeks on end.
Motaz Azaiza is on the ground after attacks, often placing himself in very real danger—as if anywhere in Gaza were not dangerous. He talks in his videos about the shame of filming his fellow Gazans during their most devastating moments, but he knows the power of truth and that what is happening needs to be shown to the world.
Hind Khoudary often tweets bombing raids through the night, and she asked: ‘Where should people go? Flee where? Nowhere is safe in Gaza.’ Her house was destroyed, and she’s had to report the breaking news of her colleagues dying in real time. We saw Wael Dahdouh, the bureau chief of Al Jazeera, being told on air that his family had been killed in an Israeli air strike. We saw him continuing his work, telling the world what was happening even in the middle of that impossible despair. His family had moved to the Nuseirat refugee camp in southern Gaza after listening to the Israeli Defence Force warnings to leave the north, and they were still killed.
I know many in Gaza despair at not being heard around the world, but the world is listening, even if our so-called leadership are not. What these journalists are doing is so critically important. It’s more than just the number of bombs, cities targeted; they show what really is going on. They are things that we should never have to see and that no-one should suffer: a child having limbs amputated without anaesthetic; an older Palestinian woman, displaced from home in 1948 during the Nakba, now displaced again; the aftermath of bombings that have flattened entire neighbourhoods. They say that in war truth is the first casualty. So far, 61 journalists and media workers have been confirmed dead—54 Palestinian, four Israeli and three Lebanese.
Journalists are not the only heroes, of course. I think also of the doctors who’ve refused to leave their patients, the taxi drivers operating as ambulance drivers, the aid workers desperately trying to save lives, the bakers feeding the hungry from the few bakeries still standing, and the parents and grandparents trying to protect their kids and grandkids. In the face of this, anything less from a political leader than calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire is complicity in these ongoing killings. Ceasefire now.