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Call for Australian Government to Warn Citizens of Legal Risks of Enlisting in Israeli Army

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) could face a ‘possible commission of a war crime’ following the ‘deliberate targeting and killing of civilians,’ the UN said.

The Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) has cautioned authorities saying it had a duty to inform the public of what legal ramifications were at stake if citizens picked up arms to fight in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

According to the ACIJ’s letter to Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw as reported by AAP, “The Australian government has failed to provide any public statements advising of the risks involved, particularly the legal risks, including the risk of individual criminal liability, for those Australians participating in the conflict as members of the IDF.”

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) revealed on Dec. 20 that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) could face a “possible commission of a war crime” following the “deliberate targeting and killing of civilians.”

UN office declared, “The Israeli authorities must immediately institute an independent, thorough, and effective investigation into these allegations, and if found to be substantiated, those responsible must be brought to justice and measures implemented to prevent any such serious violations from recurring.”

More than 20,000 people in Gaza have allegedly been killed since the IDF commenced its military offensive, which targeted Hamas in response to the surprise attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people.

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Around 2 million people—85 percent of the population—have been displaced in Gaza, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency.

Israeli authorities say around 129 Israelis and foreign nationals remain captive in Gaza.

Not An Offence to Join IDF, But Can Be If Found Guilty of War Crimes

The executive director of the ACIJ, Rawan Arraf, said the Department of Foreign Affairs needed to warn citizens that joining the IDF could constitute criminal offences under Australian law if there was evidence showing that the IDF was committing war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Currently, it is not an offence for an Australian citizen to join the army of a foreign country, with a number of dual citizens reportedly joining the IDF since the start of the conflict.

However, Mr. Arraf pointed to South Africa, which warned its citizens on Dec. 18 that fighting for the IDF in Gaza could make them liable for prosecution on their return.

Earlier this year, South Africa severed its diplomatic ties with Israel and has been vocal in condemning Israel’s actions against Hamas.

Meanwhile, Australia shifted its stance on the Israel-Hamas war and voted in favour of an immediate ceasefire at the UN. Australia joins New Zealand and Canada for an urgent “sustainable ceasefire.”

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