Speech to the Senate - Hamas attacks on Israel - Senate motion, Parliament House

  • Speech (check against delivery)

President -

The Senate must condemn these acts of evil perpetrated by a hateful group bent on the destruction of the State of Israel and the eradication of Jews.

This was an assault on Israel, on the Jewish people.

But also an attack on our collective humanity.

We unequivocally condemn these attacks, and we call for the immediate release of hostages.

Australia stands with Israel, and always will.

Just as we always remember the thousands of years of persecution and atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people…

The six million European Jews killed in the Holocaust…

That finally resolved the international community to establish the state of Israel.

And as more Jews were killed in this attack than on any single day since the Holocaust, we understand how it brings back that trauma.

The attack by Hamas was shocking in its brutality and its scale.

1,400 civilians murdered, 3,500 injured.

As many as 150 taken from Israel and held hostage in Gaza.

Men, women and children. From babies to the infirm and elderly. Holocaust survivors.

Many killed in their homes, protecting their loved ones.

Hundreds gunned down at a music festival.

Citizens from more than thirty nations, an Australian grandmother, Galit Carbone, among their number.

Place names that days ago were known to only a few, now seared in our memory.

Kibbutz Be'eri.

Kibbutz Kafar Aza.

Small, self-sustaining communities that have experienced unimaginable horror.

I again express my deepest sympathies to those impacted by these heinous acts.

We are shocked. We are horrified.

We grieve with you and we affirm our solidarity with you.

We need to be clear about what has taken place here.

Hamas has carried out a terrorist attack against Israel and its people.

There is no justification for this attack.

And in the face of this attack, as ever, Israel has a right to defend itself.

To re-establish its security.

To prevent such attacks from taking place again.

We must also be clear that Hamas does not seek peace.

Nor does Hamas represent or speak for the Palestinian people and their legitimate needs and aspirations.

We need to be clear in differentiating Hamas from the Palestinian people, just as we would distinguish between the Taliban and Afghans.

Hamas is a terrorist group that rules Gaza with no regard for the safety and security of the Palestinian people who live there.

The Albanese Government's guiding principle has always been the pursuit of peace and progress toward a just and enduring two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live within secure borders.

One of the many tragic consequences of Hamas's abhorrent attack is that it has pushed that two-state solution further out of reach.

That also makes this an unconscionable crime perpetrated by Hamas against the Palestinian people.

Hamas's actions have precipitated a devastating situation in Israel and Gaza.

Civilians on all sides are suffering.

Regardless of religion or ethnicity, we mourn each innocent life lost.

Australia's principled position in all contexts is to call for the protection of civilian lives and the observation of international humanitarian law.

These are principles Australians cherish.

They protect us all, which is why we have seen such widespread calls across the international community for the protection of civilians.

And they are principles I have consistently advocated in my discussions with regional and international partners including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the UAE, the Palestinian Authority and the US.

We join the calls of US President Biden and other partners for Israel to operate by the rules of war.

These calls are about protecting innocent life, but they are also about our shared interests.

They are about containing this conflict.

And containing this conflict matters.

If conflict were to spill over across the region, risks to Israel's security would be compounded - as they would for Israeli and Palestinian civilians, and civilian populations throughout the region.

Averting regional escalation matters to Israel, the people of the region and to the world.

This will be one of Israel's many considerations as it determines how it pursues its legitimate military objectives.

We recognise this will be challenging.

Hamas has burrowed itself in Gaza's civilian population.

It uses the Palestinian people and the hostages it has taken as human shields, and seeks to prevent the departure of foreign nationals.

Inhumane tactics that clarify the true nature of the group, but in turn heighten the imperative for all possible measures to be taken to protect civilians in Gaza.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating rapidly.

In response, Australia is providing an initial $10 million in humanitarian assistance through trusted partners for civilians affected by the conflict in Gaza.

This includes $3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross to fund urgent needs like restoring essential services and providing medical support to victims of the conflict.

And $7 million through UNICEF and UNOPS to deliver critical support including emergency water, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as child protection.

To ensure essential humanitarian relief can reach civilians affected by the conflict in Gaza, we call for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza and the rapid establishment of a humanitarian corridor.

We support the work of the United States, Egypt and others towards this goal.

Australia will continue to monitor and assess the humanitarian situation and stands ready to provide further support.

From the outset of this crisis, the Australian Government has been supporting Australians in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

Last Monday, I directed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to assess all options for Australians wanting to leave.

We secured commercial options for assisted departures and readied the ADF to assist should commercial options no longer be viable.

The first of those flights, operated by Qantas, took 238 passengers from Tel Aviv to London free of charge.

Overnight we provided a further three flights – two operated by the ADF and one government charter.

In many cases, we have also been able to coordinate with countries who are facing similar circumstances – for example Fiji, which happened to have a plane in Israel and provided thirteen seats to Australians wanting to leave.

I want to thank everyone who has helped in this effort.

The officials in my department including at our overseas posts, officials in the Department of Defence, personnel in the Australian Defence Force, and staff at Services Australia.

I also acknowledge the work of other departments and agencies through what has been a whole of government response.

I should note that we have secured flights for onward travel to Australia from London and Dubai.

Information about those flights will be provided directly to passengers and further details will be released soon.

Subject to factors including the security environment, the Australian Government is planning an additional charter flight to depart from Tel Aviv to Dubai today, for Australians wanting to leave.

Yesterday we saw spare seats despite them being fully allocated.

We can't know how the security situation will unfold.

As I have been saying for several days, people who want to leave should take the first available option.

People should consider this might be our last opportunity to conduct an assisted departure flight for the foreseeable future.

As of this morning, more than 1,200 Australians previously registered have left Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including more than 400 Australians and their families on four Australian Government assisted-departure flights.

DFAT continues to assist more than 1,000 registered Australians, including 39 consular cases.

I emphasise that not all of those registered want to leave – in many cases it is a matter of maintaining contact and the flow of information at what is obviously an anxious time.

The situation is highly challenging and rapidly changing. The Australian Government is considering whether further assisted-departure flights are required.

Australians in the affected areas who want to leave and need assistance with departure should register via DFAT's Crisis Portal or by calling the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to provide updates to registered Australians.

President, in closing I want to reflect on the impact of this conflict here in Australia.

Australians are rightly distressed by this situation, and the distress is felt most acutely in our Jewish and Palestinian communities.

There is a long, complex and disputed history - deeply felt, close to the heart of many.

The lived experiences and understandings of our different Australian communities are distinct.

When individuals engage in the sort of rhetoric that we have seen in recent days - the vile antisemitism, and the Islamophobia which is its bedfellow - it undermines some of our greatest strengths – our diversity, our tolerance, and our values.

This weekend, President Biden reminded us that history teaches that “hate toward one group left unanswered leaves open the door for more hate for more groups.”

And so I ask that when we speak, we speak with respect and understanding for difference.

We should reject all in this country who seek to create division, where we should be striving for unity.

That we reject hate and condemn prejudice and discrimination in all its forms.

That we reject the terror perpetrated by Hamas and separate their heinous acts from the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

That we stand firm against antisemitism, we stand against Islamophobia, we stand against prejudice and hate speech in all its forms - and we call it out when and where we see it.

We must maintain mutual respect for each other here at home – we must preserve our uniquely harmonious multicultural character.

It is why people come to this country.

It is who we are as a country.

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