RAHU Condemns Israel’s Genocidal Occupation of Palestine – February 2024

The Israeli siege on Gaza has pushed 50% of its population into the 151 square kilometre city of Rafah on Egypt’s border1. Close to 2 million people are stuck between this hard, militarised border and intensified airstrikes, with an Israeli ground invasion impending2, presenting the ethnic cleansing of Palestine as the humanitarian alternative to their mass slaughter. RAHU condemns not only the explicit genocidal actions of the Zionist state’s settler colonial project, but the 75-year Israeli occupation of all Palestinian land.

As a union concerned with ensuring the human right of secure housing, RAHU condemns the deliberate destruction of residential neighbourhoods in Gaza. Within the first three months of this siege, 70% of all homes had been destroyed by 29,000 Israeli bombs3, annihilating or displacing the inhabitants that called them home, while plunging survivors into famine by cutting them off from fuel, food, water, and medical supplies. Israel’s bombing of residential neighbourhoods has not been limited to houses, but has included the targeting of hospitals,
schools, mosques, bakeries, with the intention of foreclosing Palestinian life in Gaza.

RAHU condemns the practice of bombing designated ‘safe’ zones. The Israeli government has directed people to relocate to various areas throughout the Gaza strip over the past four months, and in every case has proceeded to bomb these areas. RAHU condemns the bombing of refugee camps, and the deliberate demolition of makeshift shelters, often while people have been sheltering within4

Israeli property developers and real estate agents haven’t missed a beat, pre-emptively drafting blueprints for beach-side condos, superimposing them over photos of Gazan ruins in advertisements stating: ‘a house on the beach is not a dream’ 5. The conversion of this ‘dream’ into reality takes place upon land so levelled that it ‘… is now a different colour from space… a different texture’ 6… upon the bodies of 30,000 murdered civilians, 7,800 still missing, buried under the rubble of their homes 7.

These same real estate agents profit off illegal settlements in the West Bank. Under the cover of the world’s most concentrated bombing campaign8, Israeli settlers, often armed by the government, have increased invasion of the remaining pockets of Palestinian controlled land. In one West Bank village, settlers distributed leaflets inciting genocide: ‘You wanted war, so wait for the Great Nakba’9. Military checkpoints guard the fractured and enclosed Palestinian neighbourhoods, controlling who comes in and out according to a racist, exploitative permit system. RAHU condemns this apartheid system, and the land grabs and violence it sanctions.

As a tenant’s union on stolen Indigenous land, RAHU recognizes the same settler colonial process devastating Gaza has been unfolding on the lands we organise on for 236 years. The scale and intensity of destruction may be optimised by Israel’s technologically advanced and globally financed military capabilities, but the project is the same: gaining access to territory by the elimination and subjugation of its people. Many have noted the parallel between the Australian colonial fiction of ‘terra nullius’ (no man’s land) and the Israeli colonial maxim ‘a land
without people for a people without land’. We are witnessing this process of settler-colonialism completely unmasked where the irreducible violence of dispossession and enclosure are visible to all.

A settler colony itself, it is no surprise that the Australian government has provided diplomatic cover for these atrocities, meeting out only the occasional procedural critique of Israel’s enactment of its ‘right to defend itself’. Embroiled in the imperialist world system, it is no surprise that the Australian government continues its military
contracts with Israel while joining the ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’, a military alliance punishing Yemen, the only country to come to the military defence of the besieged people of Palestine by preventing the passage of ships heading to Israel through the red sea10.

The working class, on the other hand, have responded to the calls from Palestinian workers and organisers, resulting in the biggest mass movement of our time, showing up in the hundreds of thousands to take the streets in protest, taking part in wildcat strikes, shutting down weapons factories, ports, consulates, and offices, unabated by brutal police crackdown11. RAHU members have been involved in these actions alongside workers of all stripes, in the spirit of organising the working (and renting) class towards liberation. We urge everyone to step it up
as the atrocities escalate. None are free ‘til all are free, from the river to the sea!

RAHU demands that the Australian government:

• Terminate all military contracts with Israel and immediately implement full transparency with its global military exports, ensuring Australia’s compliance with its international obligations in light of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on 26 January 2024
• Withdrawn support from Operation Prosperity Guardian
• Retool Australia’s weapons industry and provide just transition for workers
• Withdraw its participation in the AUKUS agreement, which passed without public scrutiny or due parliamentary process and locks Australia in a path of increased weapons manufacture and militarism
• Legislate against lobby groups influencing the editorial decisions towards biased coverage in the ABC
• Not only reinstate, but increase aid funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for relief and rebuild efforts in Gaza
• Increase Australia’s intake of refugees

RAHU reiterates its demands of increasing public housing stock, enforcing rent caps and the abolition of no-ground evictions as crucial measures to appropriately accommodate refugees fleeing from conflict zones.

Statement endorsed by RAHU members on February 19 2024.

1. UN estimate
2. ‘We’re going to do it’ Israeli PM set on invasion of Rafah
3. The Ruined Landscape of Gaza After Nearly Three Months of Bombing – WSJ
4. At least 70 killed in Israeli strike on refugee camp in central Gaza
5. https://inews.co.uk/news/world/israeli-estate-agent-ads-beachfront-homes-gaza-2819070
6. https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/492901/Gaza-now-a-different-color-from-space
7. UN estimate
8. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/israel-gaza-bombing-hamas-civilian-casualties-1.7068647
9. https://solidarity.net.au/highlights/israeli-state-and-settler-violence-grows-in-west-bank/
10. https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2024/2/7/houthis-couldnt-stop-genocide-but-exposed-the-wests-moral-bankruptcy
11. https://mals.au/2024/01/25/policing-of-the-webb-dock-picket/