The attacks by Hamas on Israel were unprovoked and unjust, and have incited fear throughout the world, yet we will not bow down to acts of terror. I stand alongside my coalition colleagues in publicly condemning the attacks and proudly supporting Israel in defending their people. We hope the road ahead for Israel is not long and that the war they have been forced to fight comes swiftly to an end.
Ms LANDRY (Capricornia) (17:38): I rise to condemn the unprovoked attacks by a militant terrorist group Hamas on Israel. The footage and stories of sheer terror being left in the wake of these attacks have made the blood of every Australian run cold. The blatant disregard for human life shown by this terrorist group has left our nation in a state of shock and disbelief. With news being made available almost instantaneously, our country has watched in horror as these events have unfolded before our very eyes. We have watched the senseless murders of babies, children and the elderly and others taken hostage by Hamas as a human shield. These despicable acts have left many wondering how any human could be capable of such evil. Firstly I wish to acknowledge both the Israelis and Palestinians who have been swept into a war they did not ask to be in. Both sides have lost hundreds of innocent people, and thousands more have been left with physical and emotional trauma. My thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends who have lost loved ones in such horrific circumstances. The people of Israel and Palestine remained firmly in my prayers, and I wish them safety during this time of upheaval.
It is important to reiterate to Palestinians that in the condemnation of Hamas and their reign of terror over Israel, this is not an act of anger towards Palestine. Our countries still share a long friendship, and we will continue to share close ties. It is a shameful day for humanity to witness the largest loss of life of Jewish people since the Holocaust atrocity. The attacks by Hamas on Israel were unprovoked and unjust, and have incited fear throughout the world, yet we will not bow down to acts of terror. I stand alongside my coalition colleagues in publicly condemning the attacks and proudly supporting Israel in defending their people. We hope the road ahead for Israel is not long and that the war they have been forced to fight comes swiftly to an end.
There has been too much blood shed from the innocent lives of both sides. As we watch the events unfold across the ocean, it brought angst to the families and friends of those who have loved ones caught up in the crossfire. However, I condemn the actions of those who were celebrating in the streets of Australia over the loss of life in Israel. It disturbed many Australians to see people rejoice in the death and destruction Hamas has brought to the people of Israel. This behaviour is abhorrent and unjust. It is despicable to witness people celebrating the death and destruction of human life at the hands of terrorists. I say to the Jewish community of Australia: the coalition condemns these acts of antisemitism. Our nation is one of peace and acceptance. These demonstrations of hate towards the people of Israel are not what our country is built on. We as Australians should not and will not tolerate this level of animosity towards others. To the people of Israel: you have our support, as you have had throughout history. You will overcome this great challenge.
I’d also like to bring the attention of the chamber to the more than 10,000 Australian citizens still in Israel, with many of those potentially looking to evacuate to safety. There have been many problems for Australian citizens who are desperately trying to find a means of escape. Last weekend I was contacted by a Capricornian local, Kirsten, whose 21-year-old daughter was caught up in the attacks. Kirsten’s daughter, Rhianna, had only arrived in Israel last month to undertake training at one of the world’s best dance schools, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. On Saturday 7 October, Rhianna called her mother in a panic-stricken state and was desperate to come home after the news began to break about the terrorist attacks. Kirsten described to me the sounds of bombs exploding while on the phone to her distraught daughter. This is something no mother should ever have to hear and will for a very long time be something that will continue to haunt her.
In the following days, Kirsten and her daughter struggled to find relevant information on what to do during this time of crisis. Hours were taken up trying to seek the help they needed to get Rhianna home. With information she needed difficult to locate, Kirsten contacted me for advice on what to do, as there was simply nothing being updated online. My terrific staff and I were able to help assist Rhianna as best we could and provided information on how best to reach out to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who were able to help Kirsten and Rhianna navigate their way through a difficult time by providing the assistance needed to help bring Rhianna home. After a number of days, including time spent in a bomb shelter, Rhianna and two other young Australian women were able to leave Israel and arrive in the safety of London a few days later. What a relief it would have been for their families to know their children were safe. My thoughts and prayers are with those girls as they heal from the trauma of what they’ve been through.
The complexity and organisation required for repatriation flights continues to grow ever more difficult as conditions on the ground deteriorate even further. I thank the Australian government for providing that support and assistance to Australians caught in war-torn Israel. There were incredibly emotional scenes at Sydney Airport this week as the first flight arrived back in Australia, with 222 people being united with their loved ones again. In an ABC report last Friday, it stated that there were 1,600 Australians registered with the department, with many more registering daily. The work to rescue as many as possible is still not over. We as a parliament must persist in remaining united in our support to bring our Australians home. To those Australians who remain stuck in Israel: you are in our thoughts, and we pray for your safe return to Australian shores as fast as possible.