Australia must stop arms supply to Israel: UN expert

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Michael Fakhri has called on the Albanese government to immediately end supplying weapons to Israel arguing it is "aiding and abetting a genocide and starvation" in Gaza.

"I'm talking to an Australian audience and I know the Australian government has provided military support, so that's almost a no-brainer," the UN expert said in an online seminar hosted by the Australian Human Rights Institute at UNSW on Wednesday.

"The time will come where the Australian government will be held accountable for aiding and abetting in a genocide and starvation," he warned.

The government has come under fire from some politicians and activists for recently awarding a $917 million defence department contract to Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.

Greens Senator David Shoebridge posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday details of the defence department's rebuff of his freedom of information request about a defence deal between Israel and Australia signed in 2017.

The latest lethal war on Gaza was triggered by the armed wing of Islamist group Hamas launching a surprise cross-border attack in southern Israel on October 7 which left 1200 people dead and dozens taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Entering its seventh month, more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli ground and aerial assault on the blockaded enclave.

"We have never seen a civilian population made to go hungry so completely and so quickly in no time in modern history - 2.3 million people were made to go hungry at a speed we've never seen," said Dr Fakhri.

"We are not only witnessing people documenting their own experience of genocide in real time ... we're seeing the images of people, adults and children, as they die from starvation and this is the part that's very unique."

With critical aid blocked by Israel from the Egyptian border of Gaza, several countries including the US have resorted to airdrops of food which human rights groups have criticised as paltry with the size of the ongoing famine.

A poster showing Zomi Frankcom
Seven aid workers including Zomi Frankcom were killed by Israeli strikes while delivering food.

World Central Kitchen, a food aid organisation run by celebrity Spanish chef Jose Andres, was one of the few groups allowed to deliver aid via shipments from Cyprus with permission from Israeli authorities.

But seven of its workers, including Australian Zomi Frankcom, were killed by Israeli Defence Force strikes on one of its convoys bearing its logos in early April as they were delivering food in Gaza.

Former defence force chief Mark Binskin has been appointed by the federal government as a special adviser to Australia on Israel's investigation of the incident which has been roundly condemned.

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