House debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023



5:10 pm

Photo of Tony ZappiaTony Zappia (Makin, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Hamas's cold-blooded killing of innocent men, women and children in Israel and the taking of hostages has rightfully been condemned by the Australian parliament and others throughout the world. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to the families of those killed, injured or being held as hostages. As the motion moved by the Prime Minister yesterday states, those hostages should be immediately and unconditionally released.

Life is the most precious thing we have. It is sacred. Every life matters, and a life taken can never be returned. The grief of those Israeli families who have been directly affected is something I can only begin to imagine. Their lives will be changed and their grief will never leave them. I don't know how I would react if it were one of my family members who was a victim of this terrible act, but I know that my life would never be the same again.

Violence and killing inevitably evokes retribution, including more violence and more killings, with civilians always becoming victims. We are seeing that right now in Gaza, with distressing scenes of innocent Palestinians, including children and medical workers providing medical aid, being killed. According to media reports, nearly 3,000 Palestinians have now been killed, and emergency relief and medical centres are fast running out of food, water and essential medical supplies. People in Gaza are pleading to the rest of the world for help to prevent an emerging humanitarian catastrophe. According to reports, even hospitals in Gaza are now being told to evacuate.

The killing of innocent Palestinians in Gaza must also stop. I'll quote some of the remarks made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. He said:

Moving more than one million people across a densely populated warzone to a place with no food, water, or accommodation, when the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous—and in some cases, simply not possible.

Hospitals in the south of Gaza are already at capacity and will not be able to accept thousands of new patients from the north.

The health system is on the brink of collapse. Morgues are overflowing; eleven healthcare staff have been killed while on duty; and there have been 34 attacks on health facilities in the past few days.

The entire territory faces a water crisis as infrastructure has been damaged and there is no electricity to power pumps and desalination plants.

He went on to say:

International humanitarian law and human rights law must be respected and upheld; civilians must be protected and also never used as shields.

I've spoken in this place on other occasions about the oppression of the Palestinian people. But the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hamas is not the answer and can never be condoned. It is inconceivable that Hamas would not have anticipated the response we have seen from Israel, including the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. Equally, Israel must show restraint and respect for international law in its responses. Right now, world leaders should be working to de-escalate the conflict. When I speak to people in my own community—and I did a lot of that over the weekend—they say they hold genuine grave fears about what is happening in Israel and Palestine, what that conflict may do to the rest of the world and how quickly it may spread if it continues in the way it is.

Events of recent days highlight, in my view, why it is so important to reach a permanent two-state resolution to the Israel-Palestine issue and end the uncertainty and insecurity that both Jewish and Palestinian people have lived with for the past 75 years. I expect that most of them—in fact, pretty much all of them—would not know a life other than a life of insecurity and uncertainty. I'd hate to think what it must be like for them each and every day, having to get up and not knowing what the day might bring.

This is a moment where global leadership and global intervention is needed. There is enough suffering throughout the world each and every day without adding to it the carnage and destruction of property that war brings—carnage and destruction that reverberates throughout the world. The refugee crisis that will emerge from this will have to be picked up by other countries around the world. The cost is a cost that could otherwise have been spent on doing a lot of good for humanity rather than simply trying to restore the lives of people who have been caught up in this conflict. The member for Calwell talked about some of that in her own comments when she talked about the thousands of evacuees and the work that is going into just trying to support and aid them at this critical time.

As we have been told, the real conflict has hardly even begun. I can only imagine, if it continues on the trajectory that it is on, that the demands on the rest of the world will be even greater. The only certainty of conflict is more human tragedy. It should be a global objective to try and restore peace throughout the world, because right now, throughout the world, not just in Palestine and Israel, there is already too much conflict, in so many places. Right now the world needs more peace talks. It needs leaders that are prepared to stand up and try and do whatever is humanly possible to restore peace throughout the world—in particular, to restore peace between Israel and Palestine.


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