Australia welcomes ceasefire, pans UN school strike

Australia welcomes the announcement of a “72-hour humanitarian ceasefire,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says.

“The violence must stop as soon as possible,” she says. “Israel and Hamas must fully commit to and implement this humanitarian pause. Then the priority must be to reach a permanent ceasefire agreement that brings an end to the killing and recrimination. All efforts must be directed at these objectives.”

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (R) gestures as she answers questions beside Defence Minister David Johnston (L) during a press conference at Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on June 12, 2014.  (photo credit: AFP/Toru Yamanaka)
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (R) gestures as she answers questions beside Defence Minister David Johnston (L) during a press conference at Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on June 12, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Toru Yamanaka)

Canberra notes “with deep concern the unfolding tragedy in Gaza,” Bishop says, while at the same reiterating Israel’s right to defend itself. “No country should have to tolerate arbitrary and indiscriminate attacks upon its civilian population by rocket fire and infiltration through tunnels. However, in exercising its right to self-defense, Israel must take all necessary steps to prevent civilian casualties.”

The foreign minister, known to be a close friend of Israel, says she was deeply troubled by Palestinian civilians’ suffering, lamenting that “hundreds of innocent people have been killed, including women and children.”

There have been a number of “shocking incidents,” she says “including the indefensible shelling of three UN schools, all of which were sheltering civilians. Australia supports calls for a full investigation into these incidents. Both sides must respect international humanitarian law.”

— Raphael Ahren

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