NZ 'absolutely urgently required' to speak up about finding Gaza solution - expert

Source: 1News

An international relations specialist says New Zealand has been "restrained" in its support of helping to resolve the Gaza conflict and should "urgently" change that approach.

University of Otago professor Robert Patman told 1 NEWS this evening the escalating events in Gaza - which most recently resulted in an air strike on a media building - is deeply disturbing that has been building up for a while.

The conflict has resulted in over 140 lives being lost so far, including children. 

"These rockets didn't come out of a clear blue sky," Patman said.

"There were facilitating factors in Israel that led to Hamas sending rockets into Israel."

One of those factors was the attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem which saw approximately 80 Palestinians injured as they worshipped by storming Israeli forces earlier this month.

Patman said that led to a response by Hamas which has now snowballed into the current conflict.

"That seemed to be the spark," he said.

"But the difference this time is the sheer number of rockets that Hamas are able to unleash and this conflict has led to community violence within Israel which is something we haven't seen before."

Questions have been raised about New Zealand's response to the situation with protests taking place yesterday around the country calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to do more and close the Israeli embassy.

Patman said New Zealand needed to speak up.

"We've been a little bit restrained so far," he said.

"New Zealand needs to reaffirm its support for... a two-state solution. That's been America's position officialy and it's certainly been New Zealand's diplomatic position and it would be good if, on behalf of the countries outside North America, New Zealand spoke up in support of the two-state solution.

"It's absolutely urgently required."

To date, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has expressed concern over the attacks on both sides, however not definitively addressed how the Government is stepping in.

“As we have previously said, Aotearoa New Zealand is very concerned about the ongoing violence in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” she said in a statement to 1 NEWS today.

“What’s important is ensuring that that all sides exercise restraint to prevent further civilian casualties and work towards a ceasefire. This is our number one priority for the region.

“We are continuing to work alongside the international community, continue to call for rapid de-escalation and for all sides to adhere to international law and international humanitarian law.

“As an international community we need to work to ensure there is a stop in hostilities. We are continuing to raise concerns through international and diplomatic channels,” Mahuta said.