Andrew Wallace MP – opposing a Greens’ motion calling on the Government to “end its support for the State of Israel’s invasion of Gaza”

photo of Andrew Wallace MP
March 18, 2024

This war could be over today, the suffering of so many people could finish today, if Hamas unconditionally surrender and return the remaining 134 hostages. I personally believe that every life is sacred.

Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (12:21): I rise this morning against this motion because I stand with Israel. I stand with Israel. I stand with Israel. Who, of the Greens who have just spoken, has travelled to Israel since 7 October? We had, in 15 minutes of speeches from two members, one reference to 7 October, one momentary, five-second reference—just one.

Mr Chandler-Mather: How many kids does that justify?

Mr WALLACE: You’ve had your go. I let you speak. You let me speak. You might learn something. There was one reference. Now, I’ll tell anybody that’s listening: do you want to know how to stop this war today? This war could be over today, the suffering of so many people could finish today, if Hamas unconditionally surrender and return the remaining 134 hostages. I personally believe that every life is sacred.

Mr Chandler-Mather: How many kids does that justify?

Mr WALLACE: It doesn’t matter whether you’re black, brindle, Christian, Jew or Palestinian.

Mr Chandler-Mather interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): Order! The member for Fisher will be heard in silence.

Mr WALLACE: It doesn’t matter. I believe every life is sacred. But on 7 October we saw the most despicable, violent attack against innocent civilians in southern Israel. We saw 1,200 deaths of Jewish people. Hamas terrorists flew, tunnelled under, smashed through fences to rape, to torture, to kill and to take hostages because of the race of people living in Israel—and it has to be said they weren’t just Jews that Hamas killed and raped and tortured. There were 1,200 deaths.

On 7 October, 14,492 people were injured. I’ll say that number again, because it’s not one that’s used very often. You don’t hear about it very often: 14,492. According to the National Insurance Institute report, 52,571 people were injured as a result after 7 October. Two hundred and sixty four hostages were taken and 134 hostages remain. The Greens don’t talk about that. The Greens don’t talk about the atrocities that took place.

I travelled to Israel in December of last year. I was briefed. It is seared into my brain: a 42-minute video where I saw over 100 Jews slaughtered at the hands of Hamas terrorists. I saw the body cam of those deaths and the appalling attacks on children and women. Israel did not want this war. They did not start this war. Hamas terrorists knew what they were doing on 7 October. It would be like me walking up to a beehive and shaking the beehive and not expecting to be attacked. Hamas knew exactly what they were doing. This was a strategy many months, if not years, in the planning. They knew what they were doing.

When I watched that video, as the deputy chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, I think it was a life changing moment for me. We saw videos of terrorists trying to behead innocent Israeli civilians. Where were the Greens talking about this? Where were the Greens talking about the rape of women and children? Where were they? You don’t hear the Greens talking about those atrocities. They made one reference, today, to 7 October—one reference out of 15 minutes of speeches.

This war could end today if Hamas unconditionally surrendered and handed back the 134 hostages. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that very thing. This war could end. But Hamas don’t want to do that. Since 7 October, and for years prior to that, they have used infrastructure in Gaza as a means to protect their own terrorists. They have used Palestinians as human shields. They’ve used hospitals and schools. There is no doubt about that. It is irrefutable that Hamas are using Palestinian civilians as human shields. And they are doing that because they know that they will garner support from the international community. The reality is that, under international law, Israel has a right to defend itself.

Just after 7 October, only about a week after 7 October, we saw a Hamas leader come out and say, ‘Hamas will continue to attack Israel.’ They will continue and continue and continue until Israel and everybody in it is driven into the sea. ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’; that is their catch phrase. That’s what they say. Hamas have continually threatened the annihilation of Israel and everybody living in it. When you have that existential threat, what is a government to do? What would we do as the government of Australia if we were put in that same situation? I have been on the ground. I have seen the sites of the atrocities. I have been on the ground and I’ve talked to family members. I’ve talked to people who have lost loved ones. From everybody I have spoken to on the streets in Israel, they are in a state of national grief. Everybody knows someone who has lost someone, or who knows a hostage or who has a family member who has been or is a hostage.

Israel is a small country of only nine million people, and the state of grief in Israel is palpable. I would encourage those members of the Greens political party to visit Israel and see the pain that has been caused as a result of the atrocities that occurred on 7 October. But they won’t. They don’t want to do it. They don’t want to talk about the appalling, atrocious attacks. They don’t want to talk about the innocent lives lost in Israel, starting on 7 October. Why won’t they talk about what started this war?

The SPEAKER: Order! The time for the debate has expired under the standing orders. The question is that the motion moved by Mr Bandt be agreed to.

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