A New Zealander who has had family members killed in the ongoing Israeli bombardments in Gaza is raising her voice to encourage the New Zealand Government to do more to end the current war in Gaza.
Katrina Mitchell-Kouttab is a Palestinian New Zealander who lost extended family members when the Greek Orthodox Holy Popyrous church in Gaza was bombed on October 20th.
Other members of her family have been trapped in the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza for over 80 days. She says the Church has become “a living tomb”.
Two women were shot by snipers after exiting the Church to use toilets in December. Since then, individuals have felt like they cannot leave the church. Mitchell-Kouttab’s elderly family member died recently in the Church after falling ill. He could not leave the Church to get medical attention due to the church being surrounded by Israeli tanks and snipers.
Mitchell-Kouttab has now started a petition with campaign group ActionStation to call for the New Zealand Government to call for a ceasefire and support South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice, alleging that Israel is committing acts of genocide in Gaza.
“Right now, New Zealand is running the risk of violating its duty under international law by failing to exercise its influence to stop an ongoing genocide,” says Mitchell-Kouttab.
The Labour Party, community group Justice for Palestine, and the progressive Jewish group Dayenu have called for New Zealand to support South Africa’s case at the International Court.
“Sometimes it is important to break away from traditional international partnerships and chart a different course towards the right side of history,” adds Mitchell-Kouttab.
The initial hearing on interim measures was held at the International Court of Justice on Thursday 11 January and Friday 12 January. The Court is now due to issue a preliminary decision and will consider the full case in the months ahead.
“New Zealand has a moral and legal duty to act for all those who may be at future threat of mass killing. This includes people like my family, who are trapped, unable to lead a normal life, and whose lives hang in the balance. New Zealanders and people in Palestine deserve to know that Governments will stand up to do the right thing,” says Mitchell-Kouttab.
The petition is now online and will be presented to politicians in the coming months.