As civilians get caught in the crossfire of the violence in Gaza, Jacinda Ardern is condemning both Hamas and Israel for their response, which she says goes “well beyond self-defence”.
Since fighting began seven days ago, at least 188 Palestinians have died in Gaza, and 10 people have been killed on Israeli soil.
The Prime Minister told Breakfast New Zealand's position was “very clear”.
“We want peace in the Middle East, but we feel like we’re moving further and further away,” she said.
Ardern said it was “wrong” that women and children were among the dead. According to the Hamas-controlled health ministry, 55 children and 33 women in Gaza have died in the conflict.
“We condemn both the indiscriminate rocket fire we have seen from Hamas and what looks to be a response that has gone well beyond self-defence on both sides,” Ardern said.
She said New Zealand continued to support a two-state solution, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians, with Jerusalem as the capital for both states.
Ardern said Israel had the “right to exist”, but Palestinians also had a “right to a peaceful home, a secure home”.
“I despair at what’s happening right now. In my view, if we are going to get towards a two-state solution which so many of the international community support, so long as you have the threat of evictions of Palestinian families, and so long we have in response from Hamas indiscriminate rocket fire, and then so long as you have Israel responding to that with a response that goes beyond self-defence when you start seeing the death of women and children, then we move further and further away from that two-state solution,” she said.
If the reports are true that Hamas had offered a ceasefire, but the better-resourced Israel had not taken it up, “that is wrong”, Ardern said.
“We’re all calling for a cease-fire right now.”
Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signalled the conflict with Hamas would continue.
The UN Security Council is meeting today, as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an end to the "senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction" in Gaza.
When asked whether the UN Security Council could make any material difference on the ground, Ardern said the international community was keeping “an eye” on its response.
“I think that does bear weight. So that’s why we have to be of one voice on this. We need a ceasefire. We need peace so we can move towards a resolution.”
Yesterday, foreign spokesperson for the Green Party, Golriz Ghahraman, said she was “disappointed” by the New Zealand Government’s response to the escalating attacks in Gaza.
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,” she said.