Foreign spokesperson for the Green Party, Golriz Ghahraman, says she feels ‘disappointed’ by the New Zealand Government’s response to escalating attacks between Israel and Hamas.
It comes amid a severe attack overnight on a Gaza building which was home to media organisations, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
As the conflict reaches its sixth day, at least 145 Palestinian civilians have been killed, and about 10 Israeli residents.
Ghahraman told 1 NEWS the New Zealand Government should have responded days ago.
“I’ve been disappointed at the New Zealand Government response over the six days. I think we should have responded strongly at the very start of what was very violent systemic attacks on the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem, that was backed by the Israel government.
“We then had some retaliation and now have a full-out bombardment of a civilian population in Gaza by one of the world’s most powerful militaries.
“This is an atrocity and it’s absolutely not good enough that the New Zealand Government hasn’t condemned it,” Ghahraman says.
She says she views the conflict from her background as an international criminal lawyer.
“Our focus is always obviously on civilian casualties and civilian protection.
“Gaza is a trapped population in the context of an occupation. Israel has obligations in humanitarian law to that population every single day. They don’t have the ability to leave.
“And now over the past few days, what we’ve seen is the occupying force becoming the aggressor,” Ghahraman says.
The former United Nations lawyer says New Zealand has an “obligation” to respond to civilians being killed in what she calls as an “absolute breach of international humanitarian law”.
New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has expressed concern over the attacks on both sides, however has not definitively addressed how the Government is stepping in.
“As we have previously said, Aotearoa New Zealand is very concerned about the ongoing violence in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” she said in a statement to 1 NEWS today.
“What’s important is ensuring that that all sides exercise restraint to prevent further civilian casualties and work towards a ceasefire. This is our number one priority for the region.
“We are continuing to work alongside the international community, continue to call for rapid de-escalation and for all sides to adhere to international law and international humanitarian law.
“As an international community we need to work to ensure there is a stop in hostilities. We are continuing to raise concerns through international and diplomatic channels,” Mahuta said.
It comes as the Israeli consulate in New Zealand released a press statement today calling on the New Zealand Government to “join the many members of the international community who have strongly supported Israel’s right to defend itself”.
Israel’s Prime Minister also issued a tweet today, thanking 25 nations, including Australia but not New Zealand, for supporting the nation.
“Thank you for resolutely standing with Israel and supporting our right to self-defence against terrorist attacks,” the tweet read.
Mahuta responded by saying she wasn’t going to comment on why New Zealand wasn’t included in the message.
“I wouldn’t want to speculate on what was or wasn’t included in a tweet. Like the rest of the world we are deeply concerned by the situation and are calling for an end of hostilities. That is our number one priority. Ensuring we prevent further civilian casualties,” she said.
An Israeli journalist told Q+A's Jack Tame, that most of the Israeli public would agree that action taken by the Israeli military is proportionate to the strikes Israelis are facing from Hamas.
“I think Israel is counting almost 2000 missiles being shot at civilian areas in this round. When you keep that in mind and you count the effort from the Israel army to hit back very strongly, but in a much more accurate way," Shai Gal said.
“Of course there are people who are being killed but they are not being killed intentionally,” he said.
“A family with kids being killed in Gaza – no one is happy about it. But when you have an organisation like Hamas who is actually operating from [the] civic centre, it’s inevitable.
“From the Israeli majority point of view, no one will tell you that it makes any logic, If someone is shooting missiles at your house, to say, 'ok it’s fine, we’ll take that'.”