I stand with Israel, as this nation does. I stand, especially, knowing that there are Palestinians even in this country who wish for the end of the state of Israel. That is not going to happen. They have every right to respond to protect their border and to protect their people, and that’s what they will do with all the force needed. But the tragedy of that is that Hamas will use thousands and thousands and thousands of Palestinians who will be sacrificed for their aims, without any care whatsoever of their health, wellbeing or safety.
Mr BROADBENT (Monash) (17:08): In speaking on this grave motion, I’d like firstly to identify with every word the member for Gellibrand said. I thank him for the way he represented his community and the people of Australia in the address he’s just given to the parliament.
There are no words to describe the horror that Australian people felt on hearing the news of the Hamas attack on the people of Israel. A terrorist organisation was sent to kill as many people as possible, with absolutely no care for age, for frailty or for youth. It’s an attack that seems, in Australia, incomprehensible to us as a nation.
I saw how it affected my own family and community—how distressed they were. I know they would have all gone and projected themselves into the situation in that kibbutz where people went to bed the night before and woke up to gunshots at their front doors and in their homes. We saw the killing of innocent people, young people in their absolute prime at a youth get-together for people who wanted to dance and sing. Each one of us thinks of our own grandchildren, friends and family. That could have been us. Who knows where the next attack will come from?
But there are two perpetrators of the pain and death that’s happening in the Middle East at this time. Hamas have not only attacked Israel in such a heinous way but, worse than that, have purposefully attacked the Palestinian people. They use children in kindergartens as their shelter. They use sick people in hospitals as their shelter, knowing that the leadership of Hamas will not be attacked if they use that cover. Hezbollah are the same.
I have been to Israel on two occasions at behest of the government of the day, so it was incomprehensible to me that there could be a break in the defences as there were. That’s because I know the ability of the Israelis to protect their borders. I’ve been to their borders and I’ve stood there and seen firsthand when they point out where Hezbollah and Hamas are. Using the Palestinian people in this way, virtually as human sacrifices for their bent and twisted cause, confronts us in this country, where we’re so used to freedom of movement and freedom of activity—freedom of everything. It’s not possible that anything like that could happen; but it has, and I think the response of this federal government has been totally appropriate.
As the member for Gellibrand said, people are dancing on the graves of those poor people who have fallen. Our sympathy goes out to them and to those who have been kidnapped or injured. Can we possibly put ourselves in the place of how they feel, where an Israeli father says to the world, ‘I’d rather my daughter be dead than kidnapped?’ He said, ‘Yes, she’s dead’, and he went on to explain how horrific Hamas can be with hostages. They’re holding those hostages, and we’ve seen a Hamas fighter standing there with toddlers in his arms. That brought tears to the eyes of many around me.
I stand with Israel, as this nation does. I stand, especially, knowing that there are Palestinians even in this country who wish for the end of the state of Israel. That is not going to happen.
They have every right to respond to protect their border and to protect their people, and that’s what they will do with all the force needed. But the tragedy of that is that Hamas will use thousands and thousands and thousands of Palestinians who will be sacrificed for their aims, without any care whatsoever of their health, wellbeing or safety.
This is happening right now as we speak. As we speak, the Israelis are prepared to go into the Gaza Strip, probably one of the most heavily populated areas in the world, with few opportunities for those people to escape from the Israeli incursion. None of us can understand what we would be doing, what decisions we would be making now if we were in the shoes of those in Israel and in Palestine. How would our heartache and consideration be if it was one of us? How would you think and feel if it was your wife, your father? A friend said over dinner on Friday, ‘Two of my cousins have been called up by the Israeli army, and they have easily gone.’ The way he said it was, ‘My family is about to sacrifice these two young men to the cause.’
The Israelis have put together more than 300,000 men and women, reservists called in. As we stand, Australia will do its best, and, I believe, the government will do its best to support wherever we need to support, whatever we can do. There will be humanitarian aid from this country for the peoples of Israel and the peoples of Palestine. But let me say: we will fight with every breath and every energy we have against antisemitism and Islamophobia, because this nation is better than those demonstrations we saw last week in Sydney. We’re better than that, and Australians will always stand up for the right—the right for people to speak out, yes, and the right to be heard in that freedom.