As a parliamentarian, I know that continuation of this conflict will lead to more suffering and more death. I implore those involved to protect human life, to secure safe civilian corridors and to observe international humanitarian law.
Dr RYAN (Kooyong) (18:13): I rise to support this motion by the Prime Minister. I unequivocally condemn last week’s attacks on Israel by Hamas. The decision of Hamas to attack Israeli towns and villages was indefensible. The heinous acts of these terrorists, the targeting and murder of civilians, the taking of Israeli hostages and the murderous and indiscriminate rocket fire were inexcusable and abhorrent. We should not, and we must not, equate Hamas with the civilian population of Gaza, which this week, along with the Israelis, is paying the price for Hamas’s reprehensible actions. Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. It does not reflect their needs and their aspirations. They, the Palestinian people, deserve better. There is no path to peace, safety, justice or freedom via aggression and war, via the attacks undertaken by Hamas on 7 October 2023.
As a parliamentarian, I know that continuation of this conflict will lead to more suffering and more death. I implore those involved to protect human life, to secure safe civilian corridors and to observe international humanitarian law. As a doctor, I’ve spent most of my life working as a paediatric neurologist, caring, above all, for the lives of children. It is beyond devastating to read of the deaths of children on both sides of the Gaza border; of babies killed in kibbutzim or abducted from their homes as helpless hostages; of children without oxygen or without pain relief in hospitals in Gaza; of adolescents frightened for their siblings, their parents and themselves; and of exhausted doctors trying to treat thousands of injured civilians in circumstances which are barely possible to imagine. The news overnight of hundreds of children and adults killed or injured in the explosion in the Gaza City hospital is distressing to us all. There is no path to peace through such events.
As a mother, I know that members of our community right now need love and support. Every Jewish person in this country has been touched by this tragedy and is hurting. Children attending Jewish schools should be able to wear their uniforms and to proudly identify as being Jewish without fearing the antisemitism that many of their grandparents suffered through the Holocaust. But, equally, Muslim children in Australia must not be subjected to Islamophobia. Our country, as good as it is, is as wonderful as it is because it has embraced all races, all religions and all ethnic groups. I also want to acknowledge that we live in a time when the unfiltered details of this war are known to adults and children around the world in real time. This is a time when we fear that our children will see unthinkably horrible images on their social media streams. The trauma of this is universal, but it’s unthinkably horrible for the friends and families of Israeli and Palestinian individuals who’ve seen online images of people that they know and love involved in this conflict.
Sarah Saaroni is a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor. She was one of Israel’s first citizens when it declared independence in 1948, but she now lives in my electorate in Kooyong. We swim in the same pool in Hawthorn. Sarah is grieving for all civilians caught up in this, the worst violence in the last 50 years of the never-ending conflict in Israel and Palestine. Yesterday in the Age she was quoted as saying:
Who is really the victim in all of this? … It is the innocent people on both sides. The children, the families. It is innocent people who always lose the most.
Earlier this year I met with Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan when they came to Melbourne. These two inspirational men have both lost children to the Israeli-Palestinain conflict. One is Muslim, one is Jewish. Together, united by grief, they were travelling the world advocating for peace. They said:
We cannot keep living like this … we cannot continue killing each other and fighting each other.
… … …
We don’t need people to import our conflict to their society, you already have problems of your own. We demand of you to be pro-peace, to be against injustice …
Now more than ever we have to work together to support our communities in their hurt and their trauma. We have to hold each other close. We need all people, all governments, to find a path to peace in this sad time of terrible violence.