Israel must change course in Gaza to keep international support: Australia

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Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was undermining Israel with his approach to the war in Gaza and urged the country to change course or lose even more international support.

US President Biden said on Saturday that Netanyahu was “hurting Israel more than helping” by conducting the war in a way contrary to the country’s values.

Asked about his comments on Tuesday, Wong agreed and said international support for Israel would continue to fray unless it addressed the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

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“October 7th was a terrorist attack and the world was rightly very sympathetic to and in solidarity with Israel at that time,” Wong said at the Australian Financial Review Business Summit on Tuesday.

“I think the world is horrified with the current situation ... and I would say that unless Israel changes its course it will continue to lose support.”

The war was triggered by the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s air and ground assault on Gaza has now killed 31,000 Palestinians, Gaza officials say.

The conflict has displaced most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people and the UN estimates a quarter of the population are at risk of starvation.

Wong’s latest comments on Israel are part of a growing chorus of voices among even its stalwart allies calling for the country to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as it plans for an assault on the southern city of Rafah.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in a joint statement last month. Wong said the three countries united to “amplify” their voices.

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UN chief Antonio Guterres on Monday appealed for a truce and said the threatened assault on Rafah could put the people of Gaza in “an even deeper circle of hell.”

Israel has said it will not stop its war until it eradicates the Hamas militant organization.

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