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Asia Pacific Report

A leader of one of New Zealand’s main Palestine solidarity groups today called on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador and call for an immediate ceasefire in the genocidal war on Gaza.

“We know what the crimes are — occupation. Land theft. Ethnic cleansing. Apartheid. Genocide. All crimes against humanity,” Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) secretary Neil Scott told a cheering protest rally in Auckland’s Te Komititanga (Britomart) Square.

“My challenge to the politicians of Aotearoa is stand up for international law. Oppose Israeli crimes against humanity. Speak up.”

Expressing a frequently cited epithet, “Silence is complicity”, Scott gave a brief rundown on the months of protest since the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, pointing out that the struggle really began after the Second World War with the Naqba (“Catastrophe”) forced expulsions of Palestinians in 1948.

“Another week. Another rally. Another month! Another rally,” Scott began.

“Another year. Another decade. And another decade. Another rally . . .

“This didn’t start on October 7 last year. It started in 1948.”

Heavy Israeli attacks
Scott’s condemnation of the New Zealand government for its “silence” followed news reports today that Israeli forces had launched “violent” ground and air attacks on Khan Younis and bombed homes in Rafah and Deir el-Balah, killing at least 14 Palestinians.

Mediation efforts to end the bloodshed in Gaza appear to be struggling, reports Al Jazeera, with a Hamas official saying Israeli negotiators had rejected their latest proposals for a ceasefire and claiming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “not interested” in negotiating peace.

PSNA secretary Neil Scott
PSNA secretary Neil Scott . . . “Throughout those years, we knew that extreme racism and Jewish supremacy was baked into the core of Zionist ideology.” Image: David Robie/APR

Scott said that “many long term campaigners” would know that “Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa stalwart, Janfrie Wakim, her husband [David] and a whole bunch of Palestine supporters were pivotal in setting up these [Auckland] rallies”.

“Monthly rallies. They were set up in 1981,” he said.

“Forty-three years ago. Forty-three long damn years ago . . .  silence from [New Zealand] governments.

“Throughout those years, we knew that extreme racism and Jewish supremacy was baked into the core of Zionist ideology.”

"The New Zealand Genocide"
“The New Zealand Genocide” aka The New Zealand Herald . . . New Zealand news media have been consistently condemned at the Palestine rallies for months for their alleged bias in favour of Israel. Image: David Robie/APR

Turning to the systematic theft of Palestinian land, Scott asked: “Who here knew about the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine — the Israeli theft of Palestinian land.

“The Israeli ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians from their homes and lands.”

The Israeli apartheid had treated Palestinians as second class humans, if Zionist Israel had thought of Palestinians as humans at all.

“We took on South African apartheid back in the day,” he said about the 1981 anti-aterheid Springbok rugby tour protests which were inspirational in forcing eventual change to the minority white-ruled regime in Pretoria.

“But [with] the Israeli apartheid of Palestinians. . . Our governments have done nothing.

“All of those breaches of international law! Laws Aotearoa has signed up to. All crimes against humanity,” Scott said.

“You. I. And most people with a simple interest in know was happening in Palestine know the facts. The truth.

"Stop the Zionist bloodshed"
“Stop the Zionist bloodshed” . . . getting ready for today’s Palestine solidarity rally in Auckland. Image: David Robie/APR

“For decades, we have been taking action shouting the issues from the roof tops. Almost begging successive governments to take action.

“Not to spout silly, petty words and then look the other way but take real action.”

Scott said PSNA had written to ministers, taken delegations to Wellington, and visited local MPs in their offices as well as holding rallies.

“Successive governments knew. They all knew about these crimes against humanity.”

But for more than 85 years of Israel committing crimes against humanity, successive New Zealand governments had taken “no real action”.

“They have never sent the Israeli ambassador home to show our displeasure of those crimes against humanity,” Scott said.

A young girl at the Auckland rally holds a placard in a tribute for a Gazan nurse
A young girl at the Auckland rally holds a placard in a tribute for a Gazan nurse who adopted Malak when she was left with no parents, bombed by the Israelis. Image: David Robie/APR

He said New Zealand governments had allowed 200 young Israelis to come to Aotearoa to “rest and relax” after enforcing a vicious deadly occupation of Palestine.

“A dehumanising apartheid. And now, to rest and relax after committing genocide.

“What the hell are the politicians thinking? Where are their moral compasses? Israelis committing genocide,” Scott said.

“With a warm smile — welcome to Aotearoa and thanks for bringing your blood stained money with you. Feel free to walk among us, free from consequences.

“We must sanction genocidal Israel. Send the ambassador home. End the Israeli working holiday visa! Ban ZIM shipping agents from our lands.

“Silence is complicity — to the politicians: End your silence.”

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March
Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March . . . praised the crowd for providing the solidarity momentum for their work in Parliament for justice over Gaza. Image: David Robie/APR

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March praised he crowd for protesting week after week and applying pressure on the government — “it’s thanks to you,” he said to resounding cheers.

He explained the moves the Green Party was taking to persuade the government to grant humanitarian visas for members of Palestinian families in New Zealand impacted on by the brutal ethnic cleansing in Gaza.

A Palestinian campaigner, Billy Hania, was also among many speakers. He broadcast a series of outspoken messages, including a Tiktok rundown on NZ government ministers’ support for Israel and from Michael Fakhri, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

He also praised many of the regular protesters for their perseverance and solidarity, naming several in the crowd.

Meanwhile, Hanan Ashrawi, a former member of the Palestine Legislative Council, has told Al Jazeera’s Inside Story that the US should support a “straightforward” resolution in the UN Security Council instead of using “using evasive tactics”.

UN Security Council members are expected to vote on a new resolution put forward by the elected “E10” members calling for an immediate ceasefire on Monday.

Israel is reported to have killed more than 32,070 people in the war on Gaza arrested more than 7350 Palestinians in West Bank so far during the war.

Visiting the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip, UN Secretary-General Antònio Guterres said a line of blocked aid trucks stuck on Egypt’s side of the border while Palestinians faced starvation on the other side was a “moral outrage”.

"Bombing children is not self-defence"
“Bombing children is not self-defence” . . . placards in Auckland’s Te Komititanga Square today. Image: David Robie/APR
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