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Israel Hamas WarNewsIsrael

Australia joins 12 other democracies urging Israel to comply with humanitarian law in Gaza

The countries signed a five-page letter opposing Rafah, demanding more aid and calling for a sustainable ceasefire.
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Palestinians are waiting for aid trucks to cross in central Gaza Strip on Sunday, May 19, 2024 (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana).

Published: 20 May 2024

Last updated: 20 May 2024

Israel must comply with international law in Gaza and address the devastating humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave, a group of Western nations have written in a letter to the Israeli government.

All countries belonging to the G7 major democracies – except America – signed the letter, along with Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, Reuters reported on Friday.

"In exerting its right to defend itself, Israel must fully comply with international law, including international humanitarian law," the five-page letter says.

It also reiterates the countries' "outrage" at the October 7 Hamas attack which triggered the conflict.

Israel denies blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza, and says it needs to eliminate Hamas for its own protection.

The Western nations oppose "a full-scale military operation in Rafah" and call on Israel to let humanitarian aid reach the population "through all relevant crossing points, including the one in Rafah".

"According to UN estimates, an intensified military offensive would affect approximately 1.4 million people," the letter says, underscoring the need "for specific, concrete and measurable steps" to significantly boost aid flow.

The letter recognises Israel has made progress in addressing several issues, including letting more aid trucks into Gaza, reopening the Erez Crossing, and the temporary use of the Port of Ashdod.

But it called on Netanyahu to do more, including working towards a "sustainable ceasefire", facilitating further evacuations and resuming "electricity, water and telecommunication services".

A DFAT spokesperson confirmed Australia was a signatory to the letter, saying it was consistent with the Australian government's ongoing advocacy for a humanitarian ceasefire and safe, unimpeded humanitarian access into and within Gaza.


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