Like so many people in my community, I have been devastated to hear Israel say in recent days that it has plans for a ground offensive in Rafah. This offensive will have, and is already having, devastating consequences. There are more than a million civilians sheltering in and around Rafah—civilians who have been displaced by fighting elsewhere and have moved to this area, often under Israeli direction. These civilians deserve to be safe. I share the horror of so many in my community at the destruction and death that have been occurring in Gaza under Israel’s military action. These people in my community want to see international law upheld and civilians protected, and they realise that any push into Rafah only puts more innocent lives at risk.

Australia expects Israel to act in accordance with the ICJ ruling, including to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance. Australia has voted for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It is critical and urgent that we get a ceasefire. Of course, this cannot be a one-sided ceasefire. It will also require Hamas to cease its attacks and to release the Israeli hostages it still holds. Australia will continue to advocate for a pathway out of this conflict and for ongoing peace and security. It is part of our shared humanity to want innocent lives to be protected—all innocent lives. There have been too many innocent civilians killed already.

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