At the November 8 Council meeting a motion was put forward to confirm Council’s position on the current conflict in Gaza.
The resolution of 8 November is:
1. Mourns the tragic and horrific loss of civilian lives in the current conflict and condemns all attacks that target civilians.
2. Recognises that the constant bombing and the total siege of Gaza is traumatising for many Merri-bek residents who have relatives in the region or have come from war-torn countries. We express our solidarity with these communities.
3. Notes that the current conflict did not begin on 7 October 2023 – it began with the Occupation of Palestine, and the forced displacement of millions of Palestinians from their homelands as a result.
4. Condemns the words of senior Israeli politicians and military officials that seek to dehumanise Palestinians in Gaza to justify their war crimes. For example,
- On 8 October 2023, Nissim Vaturi, member of the Knesset for the far right and governing coalition party, Likud, called for “erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth. Those who are unable will be replaced.”
- On 9 October 2023, Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, stated: “We are imposing a complete siege on [Gaza]. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel – everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly”.
5. Notes that many global organisations and institutions, including Amnesty International, United Nations Special Rapporteurs, and the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Occupied Palestinian Territory, have documented systematic evidence of war crimes committed by Israel and its army against Palestinians, including:
a) sustained bombing of residential neighbourhoods
b) the bombing of schools, health facilities, mosques and churches where civilians are sheltering
c) the use of white phosphorous (a chemical weapon which burns the skin)
d) the denial of food, water, fuel, electricity, internet, and medical supplies to the people of Gaza.
6. Notes that 800 scholars of international law, conflict studies, Holocaust and Genocide Studies declared in a public statement on 15 October:
“We are compelled to sound the alarm about the possibility of the crime of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
7. Writes to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister calling on the Australian government to:
a) Strongly condemn the war crimes being carried out by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza.
b) Call for an immediate ceasefire and end to Israel’s indiscriminate bombing.
c) Call for the immediate lifting of the siege on Gaza to allow Palestinians in Gaza to have unlimited access to food, water, fuel, electricity, medical supplies and construction materials to repair damaged homes and civilian infrastructure.
d) Advocate for all Palestinian and Israeli hostages to be released.
e) Advocate for a political resolution to the decades-long conflict which includes an end to Israel’s illegal Occupation of Palestine in order for there to be a just and sustainable peace.
f) End all military, economic, political and diplomatic ties with the state of Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law.
8. Notes that boycotts, divestment and sanctions are legitimate, non-violent tactics used by individuals and organisations to pressure foreign governments over human rights abuses and war crimes, including Israel’s brutal and illegal colonisation of Palestine.
9. Receives a report to explore options for council to cancel contracts with companies that support Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine or profit from it, especially companies which supply equipment to the Israeli Defence Force.
10. Amends the Community Flag Schedule outlined in Council’s Flags Policy by raising the Palestinian flag on the fourth flag pole at Council’s Coburg Civic Centre for six months in recognition of the specific situation of a genocide being carried out against the Palestinians in Gaza. That this decision be communicated to the communities who were expecting their flags to be flown on other dates after six months the decision will be reviewed by Council.
11. As a diverse, multi-cultural, and multi-faith community, Merri-bek City Council deplores and actively stands against all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and Anti-semitism.