Like most Australians, I was horrified when I saw the reports of the terrorist attacks by Hamas criminals on the people of Israel. Israel has the right to defend and protect its citizens. It also has an obligation to. I have every confidence Israel and the international community will do everything they can to ensure those people who committed the crimes of last week are held to account.
Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (20:04): Like most Australians, I was horrified when I saw the reports of the terrorist attacks by Hamas criminals on the people of Israel. Israel has the right to defend and protect its citizens. It also has an obligation to. I have every confidence Israel and the international community will do everything they can to ensure those people who committed the crimes of last week are held to account. My heart goes out to Israeli families who are grieving and to Australians who are worrying about their families in Israel and Gaza. My thoughts are also with innocent Palestinians who have died or those who are desperately trying to get out of Gaza. Those people must be granted safe passage and they must be allowed aid. I am confident Israel will ensure they have it. Additionally, Egypt must open its border to refugees from Gaza. This must happen. It must happen.
I won’t and don’t pretend to be an expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict but I know a criminal act when I see one; I have no problem in calling that out. Reasonable people out there know the same; they see what I see. Being a soldier, I can assure you, is an honourable profession. But soldiers don’t murder babies or take whole families hostage. I would not call Hamas fighters. I wouldn’t even call them militants. I wouldn’t give them any credibility whatsoever, because basically they are brutal rapists and murderers. That is what Hamas is. They are criminals who murder young people at a music festival. They are criminals who murder mothers and fathers and they are criminals who murder children and babies.
A man holding a gun against a child or a baby is not fighting. He is not a fighter. He is nothing less than a thug. He is a thug. He is a coward. I would ask the media to listen to what I have to say. Call Hamas what they are. Call them out because they are terrorists, they are criminals and they are murderers. Do not call them ‘freedom fighters’. They are not freedom and they are not fighters. Call them what they are. They are terrorists, criminals and murderers. That is what Hamas is. They are cowards that kidnap innocent, unarmed civilians and they need to release them now.
Australians should know that Hamas is also brutal to the Palestinian people. We Australians need to draw a very thick line between Hamas and the Palestinians. They are not the same. Hamas is a prescribed terrorist organisation. It is also a criminal organisation. In July and August, this year, there were reports of Palestinians protesting Hamas in Gaza. They marched under the slogan, ‘We want to live’, the same slogan used in the 2019 protests. They were protesting because Hamas is a brutal, criminal, murderous organisation that exploits innocent civilians for its own evil purposes. True to form, instead of listening to the protesters and seeking to understand their message, they acted with violence. What else would they do? They rounded up organisers and punished protesters. That’s what they did. Palestinians were tortured and murdered for peacefully speaking out against a brutal regime.
Hamas does not support Palestinian people. When aid is sent to Gaza, it is taken by Hamas for its terrorists. When concrete and building materials are sent in to Gaza, Hamas takes them to build its tunnels. When water pipes are laid in Gaza, Hamas digs them up and turn them into missiles. They are not the friend of Palestinians. They are not your friend. When everyday Palestinians speak up against Hamas, they are imprisoned, tortured and murdered. That is what Hamas does. When there is a call for people in Gaza to take shelter, Hamas, through its criminal actions, has thrown the Palestinian people into chaos. Hamas is using Palestinians as human shields. It is cynically putting civilians, including children and babies, in harm’s way while hiding in the shadows. Hamas are the gutless, faceless men. That’s what they are. That’s all they are.
Hamas doesn’t want freedom for Palestinians. Hamas doesn’t want peace. Hamas openly rejects negotiated peace in favour of jihad against all Jews. Hamas don’t only say they want to wipe out the State of Israel; they say they want to kill all Jews. This is what they mean when they say ‘from the river to the sea’. These are not words of freedom fighters. They are the words of a terrorist, a coward, a murderer—and the list could go on and on and on. But you’re not getting any credibility from me. Hamas only wants war. Well, now you have it, and I say this to you, be careful what you wish for, because I feel it’s not going to end well for you.
I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and to get innocent Palestinians and foreign nationals out as quickly as possible. We thank you. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Minister Wong for her efforts to evacuate Australians and Pacific islanders from the region. Many Australians and Pacific islanders are now back home because of Minister Wong and the efforts of her office and her department. These Australians are working around the clock to get Australians and our Pacific family home, and this is what family does. I would also like to acknowledge the Republic of Fiji for getting some of our Australians out. Thank you.
Conflicts like this one have impacted on the Jewish and Palestinian communities in Australia. We are a multicultural nation, and it is our responsibility to care for these communities at a time like this. I am very disturbed about recent reports of increasing antisemitic attacks on Australian Jewish people. I was also absolutely disgusted by the racist and awful chants that came from a few of the protesters in the pro-Palestinian rallies held in Australia last week. It is very un-Australian, and that is not the way we do things in this country. We have laws against hate speech in this country, and we have them for a reason, and law enforcement, if needed, should use those laws to deal with hate speech. We gave you that power. Use it. There is no place for racist speech anywhere in this country, against Jews or anyone else. It’s a democratic right of all Australians to protest, but that must be done peacefully, and we do that respectfully in this country.
Mike Burgess, the head of ASIO, has urged Australian leaders not to use language that might inflame the situation and fuel community tensions. For political leaders, or any leaders, to use the situation in Israel to score political points is just not on and it is not helpful. Australia has Jewish and Palestinian communities, and everything should be done to lower the temperature, not to dial it up. All leaders of all persuasions should do their best to comfort their people and do what they can to help Australians reach their loved ones.
A senior Hamas official was interviewed on Russian TV three days ago and admitted in this interview that this attack against Israel had been planned for years. This senior Hamas official said that, while Hamas were claiming to be a government for Palestinian people, they were in fact planning these brutal attacks. Putin is no doubt hoping that the war in Israel will draw attention away from the war in Ukraine. We can’t let this happen. Right now we’ve got to keep our eye on the ball, so it’s not just in Gaza we need to be watching; we need to make sure that we’re keeping our eye on the ball at all times in relation to what is going on in Ukraine. These battles are the same. They are a fight for the rule of law. When Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, found out about the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, he recorded a speech offering solidarity to Israel and making this point:
We are in different countries and in completely different conditions. But the threat is the same: for both us and you—the total destruction of the people, state, culture. And even of the names: Ukraine, Israel.
President Zelenskyy is a Ukrainian Jew and he lost many of his family members in the Holocaust when Nazis invaded eastern Europe in 1941. Rather than transporting Jews to concentration camps, Hitler sent Nazi death squads into the streets to kill Jewish men, women and children. More than one million Ukrainian Jews were killed during the Holocaust. President Zelenskyy’s grandfather fought with the Russian army in World War II against the Nazis. His grandson is now fighting the corrupt Putin regime.
The leaders of Russia and Hamas have something in common—they have no moral compass, not one bit. They both are terrorists, war criminals and murderers. We must support Israel and the people of Israel and we must continue to support Ukraine and the people of Ukraine. We should do all we can to ensure that innocent Palestinians are given every chance to get to safety. Palestinians must be granted safe passage out. They must be allowed to escape harm’s way.
For a moment let us focus on Ukraine. We must keep our support for Ukraine. We can’t take our eye off the ball now. In the last few days US state department officials have described the current battle for the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka as a new Russian offensive. I quote: ‘They are striking with everything they have. Bouts of shooting, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, mortars and a lot of aircraft.’ Like Hamas, Putin’s Russian army targets civilians, women and children. Once again, neither of them has a moral compass. This needs to be called out, and innocent civilians need to be protected. Racism and brutality need to be called out at every opportunity.
What is happening in Israel, in Gaza and in Ukraine is distressing for many Australians and their families. Once again, Australians must do everything that they can to support these communities and stand up for our beliefs, and one of those is the international rule of law.