Luke Howarth MP – in support of the Prime Minister’s motion

October 17, 2023

I want to have a go at the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, APAN. The main group associated with the parliamentary friends of Palestine have not come out to condemn this attack. Nasser Mashni, the president of APAN, has not come out and condemned Hamas at all.

Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (17:17): I think it’s really important to get on record what has happened in Israel. On Saturday 7 October, an act of pure evil occurred. In the early morning of 7 October, ideology won. People that want to wipe out Israel—and I’m talking here particularly about Hamas—have done something unjust and unacceptable. The terrorist attacks in Israel are a deliberate act of violence intended to inflict maximum harm on innocent civilians. What Hamas have done has not inflicted harm on the Israel Defense Forces; they have gone in to kill and maim innocent people. These attacks are the most lethal assault against Jews since the Holocaust.

The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the innocent young children and adolescents gunned down on that early morning in Israel on 7 October. We saw hostages being pulled by their hair, forced into the back of trucks and taken away to be held hostage and treated horribly. We saw the father of a young girl, crying and saying, ‘I’m actually glad that she’s dead—that she has not been taken hostage by Hamas.’ The allegations of rape and ill treatment of innocent children, women and people of all ages, including young men and those festival-goers at that concert that were gunned down—some 1,400 deaths—are horrific. Stories of the treatment of babies are also disgraceful and heartbreaking.

Let’s not mince our words: Israel is at war. That’s what has happened. Israel is at war, and the attack by Hamas is a provocation. Israel has every right to defend itself in response and to deter future attacks and other acts of aggression, coercion and interference. Hamas is a recognised terrorist organisation consistently showing a blatant disregard for life. Global support for Israel, its right to exist and its right to self-defence and opposition to antisemitism in all forms is crucial.

This kind of violence is anti-Australian. It is completely disrespectful for pro-Palestine rallies to be occurring around Australia currently. What we saw in Sydney at the Opera House recently and the chants of ‘Gas the Jews’ are outrageous. I support the calls by the Leader of the Opposition that people like that, if they are not Australian citizens, should be deported by the Minister for Home Affairs. They would never be allowed to come into the country with those views, and if they’re here on a temporary visa they should be gone. It’s very sad that that has occurred in Australia.

I want to have a go at the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, APAN. The main group associated with the parliamentary friends of Palestine have not come out to condemn this attack. Nasser Mashni, the president of APAN, has not come out and condemned Hamas at all. As a parliament, we are this week standing in solidarity with the people of Israel and have moved a motion stating:

That the House—

(1) unequivocally condemns the attacks on Israel by Hamas, which are the heinous acts of terrorists, and have encompassed the targeting and murder of civilians, including women and children, the taking of hostages, and indiscriminate rocket fire—

some 5,000 rockets fired by terrorist groups into Israel—

(2) stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself;

And yet President Nasser Mashni of APAN has not only failed to condemn Hamas but has publicly commented that Western governments who have stated Israel has a right to defence itself are aiding and abetting the brutal Israeli regime. These comments are divisive in nature, and they’re offensive to our sovereign nation, our country, and the authority of this parliament. If that is the main group associated with the parliamentary friends of Palestine, it should be disbanded. When asked about Hamas on the Project, Nasser Mashni went on with the question to talk about how he condemns Israel—no condemning Hamas, nothing like that.

They were allowing pro-Palestinian Hamas lovers to freely comment on their social media pages, which clearly shows where they stand and is why I’m asking for that parliamentary friendship group to be disbanded. Here’s a comment on the APAN Facebook page: ‘We love you, Hamas.’ ‘We call on Hezbollah to open another front.’ ‘Syria must also play its part, and Saudi Arabia.’ It goes on. People who are out celebrating the rape, the abduction, the slaughter of women and children are completely cold blooded. There are no excuses. This is terrorism. Those who are applauding the actions of Hamas, like the comment on the Facebook page—that was left up there and could still be there. It was left up there for 10 hours, despite APAN posting other posts after that. On their Facebook page is not one mention of terrorist attack on Israel. It is a disgrace. Our country needs to have a zero-tolerance policy for the rallies and actions that celebrate violent behaviour, and I support what the Leader of the Opposition said in relation to those visa holders.

The teals and the Greens have accused Israel of war crimes—some of the teals, I should say; two of them. Hamas terrorists have invaded Israel and have murdered thousands of innocent civilians, and what do we hear from the Leader of the Greens?

With a ground invasion of Gaza looming, it is disappointing to say the least that this motion moved by the government backs that invasion.

He goes on and on and on. These sorts of words from the Leader of the Greens give legs to extremist views like what we saw at the Opera House. That’s what it does. The Greens are the ones that have extreme views, and they do not have a large moral compass as far as I am concerned.

How would you feel if 5,000 rockets were raining down on your country or if your teenage daughter was abducted, raped and murdered or if your baby was beheaded? How would you feel? This is an act of terrorism, and the Western world has rightly supported Israel. When you are at war, what happens? Look how many people have passed away in Ukraine and Russia. Israel have a right to defend themselves. They have a right to hunt down the terrorists in Gaza. We in this place support them.

I’ve reached out to the ambassador of the State of Israel, Mr Amir Maimon, and passed on my condolences for the terrorist attack that happened in his country. I am glad that he’s met with the Prime Minister. He’s also visited the coalition party room. However long it takes for Israel to defeat Hamas and hunt down every one of those terrorists, we should be supportive in this place and not mince our words. This was an unprovoked attack. Over a thousand people were absolutely slaughtered at a festival, including babies, women and men. No mercy was shown from these animals. The Israeli Defence Force have a right to take their time and completely eliminate this evil from Gaza. We stand with Israel and the Jewish community within Australia through this dark hour.

Link to Parliamentary Hansard