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I am hosting this briefing with humanitarian workers, Arunn Jegan, Scarlett Wong and Dr Sanjay Adusumilli, recently returned from the frontline in Gaza because it is critical everyone in this place focuses on our shared humanity.

On the need to do everything we possibly can to protect the lives of children and put an end to a conflict that has cost so many lives.

There are more actions our government and others around the world can and must take without further delay.

Over 36,000 people have been killed by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza since October last year - half of whom are women and children.

Over 81,000 have been injured - many horrifically. Severe burns, explosive injuries, lost limbs. These are injuries that will change the course of people’s lives.

Israeli strikes are continuing on Rafah - despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering them to stop, aid to be allowed to flow, and the border to re-open. These strikes are in an area that was designated as safe and where more than 1.5 million people fled and have been living in tents for months

Since attacks on Rafah have commenced and intensified, nearly a million people have fled again - people don’t know where to go, and nowhere in Gaza is safe.

Key humanitarian facilities, including hospitals and clinics, are being forced to close.

The violence is not just restricted to military attacks - the population of Gaza is starving because of restrictions on aid. The UN estimates that more than 50,000 children need treatment for acute malnutrition across the Gaza strip. 

There are trucks loaded with food stuck at the borders, with children starving to death on the other side. 

Like so many people, I have condemned Hamas’ deplorable actions in the strongest possible terms and continue to advocate for the release of hostages.

I also deplore the rise in antisemitism and other forms of hate speech we’ve seen. 

It is disappointing how this issue has been so weaponised and used for political gain. We diminish all of our humanity when we do this.

The cracks we’ve seen in our social cohesion are something we need to work together to repair. 

In the wake of the news that the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor is seeking arrest warrants for key Hamas leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Minister for Defence for war crimes and crimes against humanity, I welcome the Australian Government affirming their support for the ICC.

We cannot pick and choose which potential crimes are politically convenient for the ICC to investigate. Nations around the world must support its work without fear or favour.

But there is more our government can and should do. 

The scale of ongoing killings and human suffering in Gaza, especially of women and children, necessitates a stronger response.

Countries around the world must step up and use every lever at our disposal to stop this horror. 

We should be looking at targeted sanctions against members of the Israeli government and the Israeli Defence Force - they simply cannot be allowed to continue operating with impunity and disregarding the ICJ and international community. 

We must also cut all military ties with Israel. 

Just this year, an Australian army contract worth $917 million was awarded to Elbit Systems to work on new Infantry Fighting Vehicles being constructed in Victoria

Australia continues to export ‘dual use’ items to Israel that can be used for military purposes - and we still don’t know what these dual use items are.

What we do know is that parts made in Australia are being used to kill kids. 

Weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin has said that every F-35 built contains some Australian parts and components. These are the planes Israel uses to bomb Gaza. This has to end.

Our government has been speaking out against the actions of Israel, but they are still holding back. 

They need to stop holding back and start pulling out all the stops. If they don’t, history will judge us.  

Future generations will look back and ask why we didn’t do more - and act more quickly - to stop the mass killing of civilians. 

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