Monday, September 23, 2013

Our Man in Tel Aviv 3

Dave Sharma is Australia's new ambassador to Israel. Or should that be Israel's ambassador to Australia?

While other Australian diplomats quietly attend to the myriad needs of Australians abroad, Sharma's busy blowing Israel's trumpet in the Murdoch press, celebrating its latest PR stunt, the treatment of a handful of Syrian refugees in an Israeli hospital. A sample:

"Ziv Hospital is a profound example of humanity and decency at its most compelling. It is Israel at its very best, and a side of Israel that the world too rarely acknowledges." (Origin no bar to Israel lifesavers, The Australian, 31/8/13)

(For a more liberal serving of same see my 3/9/13 post Our Man in Tel Aviv 2.)

Now was it Dave Sharma or one of his underlings who was on hand to witness the following example of Israel's "humanity and decency at its most compelling"?

"Khirbet Al-Makhul, West Bank: Israeli soldiers manhandled European diplomats on Friday and seized a truck full of tents and emergency aid they had been trying to deliver to Palestinians whose homes were demolished this week.

"A Reuters reporter saw soldiers throw sound grenades at a group of diplomats, aid workers and locals in the occupied West Bank, and yank a French diplomat out of the truck before driving away with its contents. 'They dragged me out of the truck and forced me to the ground with no regard for my diplomatic immunity,' French diplomat Marion Castaing said. 'This is how international law is being respected here,' she said, covered with dust...

"Locals said Khirbet Al-Makhul was home to about 120 people. The army demolished their ramshackle houses, stables and a kindergarten on Monday after Israel's high court ruled that they did not have proper building permits... Israeli soldiers stopped the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delivering emergency aid on Tuesday... Diplomats from France, Britain, Spain, Ireland, Australia and the European Union's political office, turned up on Friday with more supplies. As soon as they arrived, about a dozen Israeli army jeeps converged on them, and soldiers told them not to unload their truck.

"'It's shocking and outrageous. We will report these actions to our governments,' said one EU diplomat... '(Our presence here) is a clear matter of international humanitarian law. By the Geneva Convention, an occupying power needs to see to the needs of people under occupation. These people aren't being protected,' he said...

"The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement that Makhul was the third Bedouin community to be demolished by the Israelis in the West Bank and adjacent Jerusalem municipality since August." (Israeli forces manhandle EU diplomats, seize West Bank aid, Reuters/Sydney Morning Herald, 21/9/13)

Whoever it was, he/she was remarkably short of words this time around. As Fairfax's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard wrote, in an appendage to the Reuters report: "A spokesman from the Australian Embassy in Israel said the embassy was 'looking into' the incident."

I for one won't be holding my breath for an opinion piece in the corporate press by ambassador Sharma addressing this, the latest example of Israeli ethnic cleansing in occupied Palestine. Nor, for that matter, for a word of protest from our new foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Australia as a High Contracting Party is obliged to report "grave breaches" of the conventions to Geneva.

Of course 'our' government will rush to put pen to paper...wot?