AEU Statement on the conflict in Israel and Palestine

24 October 2023

The AEU has written urgently to the Prime Minister in regards to the escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel and its catastrophic impact on the people of the region.

We condemn the recent attacks on civilians by Hamas and Israel, with thousands of deaths already recorded, many more injured, mass displacement of affected people, and the holding of hostages, including children.

We urge the Australian Government to support the international appeal to Hamas to release the hostages, and for all parties to protect the lives of civilians and preserve civilian infrastructure, including educational and medical facilities, throughout the Palestinian territories.

The impact on children and their families is of grave concern to the AEU. All children have the right to access education in safety and with their basic human rights respected. Children in Gaza have had no access to education in a safe place for more than two weeks during this recent conflict. At least 88 education facilities have been struck in Palestine, including 18 UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) run schools, two of which were used as emergency shelters for displaced people, as well as 70 Palestinian Authority schools. More than 220,000 displaced people are sheltering in 92 schools run by UNRWA. UN humanitarians have warned that Gaza is on the brink of running out of food, water, electricity and critical supplies.

The AEU condemns any acts of war by any nation or group that attacks civilian targets, including schools and hospitals. The AEU mourns the loss of lives in Palestine and Israel and condemns all violence on civilian populations stemming from the conflict. We call on the Australian Government to show leadership internationally and nationally, calling for an unconditional ceasefire and to ensure that humanitarian aid is urgently provided to those in need.

Furthermore, Australians of Palestinian and Israeli descent must also be protected from racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism, and all racism and hate speech must be condemned as unacceptable.