NSW Teachers Federation Executive Statement on Middle East Conflict

All wars are fought against children

Federation is deeply saddened and concerned at the level of human suffering and pain being experienced by communities in Israel and Palestine, and naturally, by their loved ones across the world.

We reiterate our strong opposition to all violence as well as racism, including antisemitism, in all its forms.

We join with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in condemning the recent attacks on civilians by Hamas and Israel, with thousands of deaths already recorded on each side of the border, many more injured and others continuing to be held as hostages. (Israel Palestine – International Trade Union Confederation (ituc-csi.org)

Consistent with the position stated by UN appointed independent rights experts “there is no justification for violence that indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, whether by Hamas or Israeli forces,” Federation condemns any state, organisation or military force that attacks civilian targets.

While the attacks perpetrated by Hamas deserve international condemnation, the actions of the Israeli Government cannot be justified in any way.

Israel’s air offensive over multiple days and total blockade of the Occupied Gaza strip demonstrates its continued indifference to the plight of civilians and innocents in Palestine, including children.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, since October 7 Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 2,670 Palestinians with 9,600 more wounded. Over 1,000 people are estimated to be missing under the rubble. Among the thousands killed by the Israeli attacks so far are more than 700 Palestinian children. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates more than 423,000 people have already been internally displaced in Gaza due to Israeli’s indiscriminate military strikes.

Many of those with nowhere to go are children. Humanitarian aid has been barred to enter into Gaza and Israel has ensured that there is no more water, food, medicine, or access to power coming in.

Federation has particular concern for the children of occupied Gaza who continue to be subjected to collective punishment and constant militarised coercion. As recently as July 2023 Federation’s Annual Conference passed a resolution that stated in relation to the children of Gaza: “Their human rights, including their right to education, continue to be attacked by the expansionist Israeli state and their illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.”

Federation supports Education International’s call on the international community to do their utmost to stop the bloodshed and avoid any further deepening of this humanitarian crisis. (Joint EI-ETUCE Statement on Israel and Palestine (ei-ie.org)

Whilst there have been limited calls by the Australian government for the parties to exercise restraint, we are appalled by the lack of leadership both here and internationally for failing to call out atrocities committed by Israel, having rightly condemned Hamas for its actions, and to call for an unconditional ceasefire. Calling for safe passage for humanitarian aid via the Egyptian border goes nowhere near far enough.

The ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine must be ceased immediately and the international community must commence the work necessary to address its root cause: the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestine.

Right to protest and peaceful assembly

Federation expresses its deep concern at the NSW government’s approach to the current crisis; with its decision-making and public commentary mostly having the effect of unnecessarily fanning the anger and profound sadness of Palestinian communities here in Australia.

Racism including antisemitism has no place here or anywhere, but peaceful assembly and peaceful protest and the expression of solidarity must never be restricted by the state.  

Union Aid Abroad APHEDA Gaza Emergency Appeal

The Federation’s affiliated body, Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, has launched a Gaza Emergency Appeal in conjunction with their partner organisation MA’AN Development Center, who will work with local organisations in Gaza to provide access to water, food, medical supplies and shelter; psychosocial support for families and individuals; and dignity and hygiene kits for displaced people. All members are encouraged to donate to this appeal.

UPDATE – 8 November

How many more children?

Federation maintains its condemnation of all forms of attack on civilians by Israel and Hamas.

Federation continues to be horrified by the ongoing killing of civilians in Gaza including more than 4237 children, perpetrated by the state of Israel.

Federation shares the “deep frustration” of UN human rights experts with Israel’s refusal to halt plans to decimate the besieged Gaza strip.

The 2 November statement by UN human rights experts says: Time is running out to prevent genocide and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza”.

This cannot go on.

It is time for the Albanese government to urgently and publicly support the call by UN human rights experts for an immediate ceasefire, access to humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and the release of all civilians being held captive by either side.

Protest for Gaza: Stop the genocide!