I move that, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency: To support peace for Palestinians and Israelis, and due to the approximately 10,000 Palestinian deaths and over 1400 Israeli deaths, the Australian Government call for an immediate ceasefire to end the humanitarian catastrophe occurring in Gaza, for the unconditional release of all hostages and for an urgent end to the siege on Gaza.
Senator STEELE-JOHN (Western Australia) (16:17): I move:
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
“To support peace for Palestinians and Israelis, and due to the approximately 10,000 Palestinian deaths and over 1400 Israeli deaths, the Australian Government call for an immediate ceasefire to end the humanitarian catastrophe occurring in Gaza, for the unconditional release of all hostages and for an urgent end to the siege on Gaza.
I want to use my time in the Senate today to share some stories from life in Gaza today. Firstly is a story from Fidaa, a mum in Gaza:
Today is my daughter’s 12th birthday, and to be honest I was glad that she felt excited, she had been counting down to it since the beginning of this month.
But last night she was like, “you know what I wish for my birthday? I just wish that it won’t be my death day. I wish I won’t be targeted by a rocket and the people won’t have to say ‘wow, she was killed the same day that she was born.'”
Then this from Hoor, again, a 15-year-old living in Gaza right now—a 15-year-old girl who has survived four wars: ‘I’m not sure that I will do the same during this fifth terrible war. It is completely different; death accompanies people in Gaza every single second. I’m not sure that I can finish my statement before an Israeli rocket splits me into pieces.’ Both of these stories come directly to us from Oxfam in Gaza.
And Save the Children provided the story of a worker, whose name has been removed from this speech just to safeguard their identity. They are a father of four, currently sheltering in a facility with 20,000 others. He talks, in his communication with us, about what it means to be a displaced person in Gaza, what it means to be one of the hundreds of thousands of people forcibly displaced by the Israeli carpet bombing and ground invasion.
He says: ‘Displacement means that there is no mattress or pillow. Your mattress is the floor or your car and a your cover is a sheet that has been found in a warehouse where it has sat for years. Displacement means there is no clean water to drink. You may have to, if you find it, drink contaminated water full of diseases. Displacement means that there is no cooked food—no food at all, except a few boxes of cheese which smell rank from the heat. Displacement means that there is a loaf of bread to split into two or possibly into four. Whatever it is, it is never enough. The important thing that you count is that you have managed to eat. This is considered a great achievement.
Displacement means that you look up to the sky 30 times every minute, imagining a new massacre will happen to you and the latest breaking news will be about you and your family. Displacement means you will always hear bombing around you. You will see it, but you will never know where it is coming from. Displacement means that there is no electricity, except by chance or luck. There is no mobile phone battery, there are no phone calls or messages, there is no internet and there is no communication with the world. You may die, and no-one in your family will know that you have died. Displacement means oppression, anxiety, tension, hunger, sweat, distress, disillusion, sadness, darkness, anticipation, fear for the children, fear for the family, fear for the friends and fear for the future.’
It is from stories like this, human stories representing the millions attempting to survive right now in Gaza, that the Australian community draws its courage to confront its government which daily fails to call for an end to this slaughter, to the carpet bombing, to the siege and to the collective punishment of 2.2 million people. Shame on the government for not rising and drawing that same courage to join with them. (Time expired)