Hon Jihad Dib Mp: Last week I spoke about the horrifying situation in Israel and Palestine and about my fears that escalation will impact innocent people. I made my feelings clear, and there should be no doubt regarding my condemnation of the actions of Hamas and those who partake in hate speech locally. I was
Hon Jihad Dib Mp: Last week I spoke about the horrifying situation in Israel and Palestine and about my fears that escalation will impact innocent people. I made my feelings clear, and there should be no doubt regarding my condemnation of the actions of Hamas and those who partake in hate speech locally. I was sad then, but tonight I am heartbroken by what is unfolding in Gaza. I know I am not the only one whose heart aches. I fear what the coming days will bring and I reiterate that the international rules of war cannot be ignored or set aside. We are witnessing the immense suffering of the people of Gaza. The number of dead is around 5,000, with over 500 being innocent children. That is a tragic fact we cannot ignore.
International humanitarian organisations have expressed alarm at the decision to cut medical aid, power, fuel, water and food. This had a deadly effect on residents of Gaza, including children, the elderly, women and men. The World Health Organization raised concerns about orders to evacuate hospitals. Today’s destruction of the Al-Ahli Hospital has left around 900 people dead. This is a tragedy beyond imagination and causes every heart to ache. Earlier, residents of Gaza were told to leave their homes to seek shelter. But, as many world leaders have asked, where can they possibly go while borders such as that of Egypt are closed? Where can they possibly go when they are surrounded by war, rubble and flattened towns?
The impossibility of the situation is brought home by stories emerging from Gaza. We have heard heartbreaking stories of death, missile strikes, and psychological and physical warfare tactics. We have heard the story of a convoy of people that came under attack while following instructions to evacuate to the south, leaving 70 people dead. I have heard stories of women forced to sleep in the street amid dead bodies because there is nowhere to go. They have nowhere to hide or flee, while running out of water and food, existing in what they call a living death. People in my electorate are asking me the confronting question: Why must so many innocent people have to die? What Hamas did was horrific and has been rightfully condemned, but all sides must remember that because a person resides in Gaza it does not mean they are a supporter of Hamas.
These people too are the victims of this horror. In times of war and anger, it is easy to lose sight of that. But we must ensure that we do not lose our sense of justice. We cannot forget to humanise each innocent person who is lost. Whichever way you look at this whole situation, it is heartbreaking—everyone suffers. You would be foolish to believe there are winners in this; it is humankind that is the ultimate loser. You do not have to be Arab, nor Muslim, nor Christian to feel the pain of innocent Palestinians; you just have to be human. A person burying their loved one feels the same grief regardless of which side of this conflict they are on. Mothers mourn their children irrespective of culture or background.
In Australia, we are so blessed to call this incredible country home. We have interfaith and intercultural relationships; we are the envy of the world. We have relationships, especially at this time, to maintain and strengthen in the days ahead. In Australia, we can dream of the future. We can have hopes and aspirations. But for those caught up in this conflict, dreams only extend to surviving the day. This is not sustainable or a way forward. The world is at a critical juncture and we face dangerous times. The global community must act to bring about peace. No-one wins in war. But there is always hope. My hope is that innocent people will be spared, and that we can change the trajectory of this catastrophe.
I call on my colleagues to consider the words they use at this time and their positioning on this tragedy. I especially call on my colleagues on the opposite side of the Chamber; we have seen their positioning during question time. I urge them to use their voice for peace and to recognise the catastrophic effect this war is having on innocent people and others around the world. Many charitable organisations are doing good work, but they must be afforded the opportunity to deliver aid to people who are in desperate need. There must be a way that we can create a safe passage on humanitarian grounds.
A friend recently sent me a quote from Bertrand Russell, who said, “War does not determine who is right—only who is left.” That is something for all of us to reflect on. Tonight is a time for humanity, for peace. And whilst there may be a sense of helplessness, we should never give up on hope. Collectively, we must do all we can to bring an end to this. Let us not look back in the years to come and think to ourselves, “We could have, we should have, I wish I had done more.”