'Global ramifications'

Crushing Hamas benefits Australia

Israel's ability to respond effectively to the atrocities committed there on October 7 very much matters to us here at home.

Josh Frydenberg (left) meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Israel last week.
Josh Frydenberg (left) meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Israel last week.

Kibbutz Be’eri in Israel’s south is one big crime scene. A paradise turned into hell.

As drones buzzed overhead and artillery shells thundered in the distance we walked past one burnt home after another. Signs of Hamas’s barbarism were everywhere. In that community alone more than 100 civilians were slaughtered on October 7, including Australian citizen and grandmother Galit Carbone. A number of other kibbutz members are still being held hostage in what we know are the most inhumane conditions imaginable.

Seeing the kibbutz myself and listening to the stories of survivors including many who had dedicated their lives to building ties with their Palestinian neighbours brought home the enormity of what happened that day and the dangers that now confront us all.

It is a visit I would encourage our Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to also make.

This is no photo op. But rather an opportunity like after 9/11 to express solidarity with a fellow democracy in its hour of need and demonstrate the moral courage that this pivotal moment in history requires.

Just think what would happen if it were us in Australia who were subject to a terrorist attack the size of October 7.

We would be responding to nearly 4000 dead and 1000 taken hostage. We would, and the Australian public would expect us to, use all means at our disposal to end the rocket fire, dismantle the terrorist entity on our border and return the hostages to their families. We would want every one of our friends standing by our side just as Israel does today.

We need to understand the events of October 7 have local, regional and global ramifications that extend well beyond the Gaza Strip.

Should Israel not achieve a decisive victory and restore its own security dangerous consequences will follow. As former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke once said, “If the bell tolls for Israel, it won’t just toll for Israel, it will toll for all mankind.”

Should Hamas remain in control of even a part of Gaza the possibility of achieving a two-state solution in the near term will all but disappear.

Hamas’s intentions are clear. Their stated objective is to achieve the destruction of Israel. To state the blindingly obvious this leaves no room for negotiation or compromise.

Hamas may have launched its jihad attack under the false flag of freedom but in reality what they have achieved is the opposite of that. They have damaged the Palestinian cause and their legitimate claim for self determination.

Israel’s war is with Hamas not the Palestinian people who are now suffering greatly as a result of Hamas’s terrorist attack.

At a regional level Hamas’s survival would also embolden its sponsor Iran and send a message to other proxies in the region that terrorism pays.

It would guarantee that the Houthis and Hezbollah would continue with their provocations. Provocations that have already seen more than ten per cent of the world’s sea trade which passes through the Red Sea disrupted and the prospect of an all out war in Lebanon become more likely.

The momentum of the Abraham Accords that have already brought so much hope and promise to the region will be dealt a severe blow.

The alignment between Israel and its Muslim neighbours stems in part from a common interest in countering the nefarious influence of Iran. A weakened Israel will have less chance of encouraging Saudi Arabia to normalise ties and follow the path paved by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

At a global level anything less than a crushing defeat for Hamas will strengthen the hand of those including Putin’s Russia who are aggressively seeking to undermine the US-led global order. An international order that has delivered stability and prosperity for close to 80 years benefiting many including Australia.

We need America to remain strong so that it can provide the leadership and resources we need in our part of the world.

As the conflict in Gaza continues into its sixth month, the focus will rightly be on ensuring the hostages are returned, humanitarian aid delivered and civilians protected. But in doing so we must not lose sight of the need for Hamas to be comprehensively defeated.

If we don’t support the advancement of this critical strategic objective our national interest will be harmed.

Most Australians would never have heard of Kibbutz Be’eri as it is thousands of kilometres from our shores. But Israel’s ability to respond effectively to the atrocities committed there on October 7 very much matters to us here at home.

Josh Frydenberg was treasurer of Australia and recently visited Israel as part of an AIJAC delegation where he met Israeli and Palestinian representatives.

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