Politicians condemn ‘reprehensible’ Hamas attack

'There is nothing to justify the targeting of civilians in such a way,' Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says; Foreign Minister Penny Wong walks back 'restraint' comment

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at an Australia–Israel Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier this year. Photo: Dean Schmideg
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at an Australia–Israel Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier this year. Photo: Dean Schmideg

Israel “has a right to defend itself and it will,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Sunrise on Monday.

“This is the most devastating day that we’ve seen for fifty years,” he said. “This attack was reprehensible and we condemn it.”

Also on Monday, Albanese told ABC Sydney Mornings, “This was an unprovoked and quite horrific attack … This was an extraordinary attack, obviously coordinated over a long period of time and very indiscriminate in who it targeted: families going about their daily business, people in Kibbutzim, a rave concert of young people being either murdered or in some cases taken captive and taken into Gaza.

“We call for all of the hostages to be released. There is nothing to justify the targeting of civilians in such a way.”

Foreign Minster Penny Wong told journalists at Melbourne Airport on Monday that she had spoken to her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen.

“I expressed Australia’s support for Israel, our solidarity and our support for Israel’s right to defend itself. I want to say at this time that Australia’s thoughts are with those lost, those injured, those taken hostage and all their loved ones,” she said.

Wong was asked about an earlier statement urging restraint in Israel’s response, responding, “I think it is always the right thing for Australia to urge restraint and the protection of civilian lives. Are people suggesting that we ought not be in any conflict calling for the protection of civilian lives? Of course we should.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton told Sky News host Sharri Markson on Monday night that Australia “should provide whatever support Israel requests” in light of the Hamas carnage.

“It should be made known to Israel by the Prime Minister that Australia is prepared to provide munitions and support otherwise, as the Americans and others no doubt have,” he said.

He added, “People who try to draw a parallel or argue equivalence between Israeli activity now in their retaliation for these strikes and the barbaric attacks that we’ve seen by Hamas, there is no comparison and it’s appalling.

“We need to make it very clear that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel.”

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement, “I utterly condemn the horrific acts by Hamas and their deliberate slaughter of hundreds of innocent, unarmed civilians.

To be deliberately targeted, in their homes, in their streets, and at a music festival, is an abhorrent act, in violation of all rules of war, or indeed, of basic humanity.”

Meanwhile, 40 federal MPs from both major parties as well as independents have put their names to a statement from the federal Parliamentary Friends of Israel condemning the Hamas attack.

“The targeting of civilians and indiscriminate violence by Hamas is resulting in a devastating loss of life across the region and is a heartbreaking setback for the security of both Israeli and Palestinian people,” the statement released on Monday said.

“The state of Israel has an unimpeachable right to exist, and to defend itself. We stand in friendship and solidarity with the people of Israel.

“Our thoughts are with all those who are affected by this conflict, and in particular with the families of those who have lost their lives or have been taken hostage.”

On Sunday night, federal Parliamentary Friends of Israel chair Senator Deborah O’Neill and deputy chair Senator David Fawcett said in a statement, “As the indiscriminate violence directed toward Israel and its people which has unfolded in the last 24 hours continues, we join in the unequivocal condemnation of attacks on Israel by terrorist group Hamas, and recognise Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Member for Macnamara Josh Burns told Sky News’ Kieran Gilbert on Monday that it had been “a really tough weekend” for the Jewish community.

“I think everyone has heard of someone they know being caught up in this. Certainly, my family has spent spent time in bomb shelters and underground with young kids, unsure of whether they’re going to be called up as part of the reservist forces. It’s really distressing,” he said.

“And the scenes coming out of Israel by this unprovoked act, this terrorist attack by Hamas, are just shattering.”

Independent Member for Wentworth Allegra Spender also released a statement on Monday.

“The brutality of Hamas, a recognised terrorist organisation, is beyond understanding. More Jewish lives were lost on Saturday than on any day since The Holocaust,” she said.

“I want you to know my thoughts are with our community, particularly those who have friends and family in Israel.

“Israel has an inherent and fundamental right to defend itself and safeguard its citizens against these horrifying acts of terror. These are not acts of resistance. People should not let sympathy for the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for statehood blind them to the fact that Hamas remains dedicated to a Palestinian state where Israel does not exist.”

Independent Member for Goldstein Zoe Daniel said in a statement that she stood with the Australian government in condemning the attack.

“Hamas is a declared terrorist organisation and Israel has a right to self-defence,” she said.

“I urge both sides to make the safety of civilians their first priority, and to carefully calibrate their next steps to avoid prolonged and escalating confrontation.

“It is unconscionable that innocent civilians have been taken hostage and it is a priority for all nations with influence in the region to push to achieve their release including Australia and its allies.”

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan meets with the Rabbinical Council of VIctoria. Photo: Premier’s Office

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan met with members of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria on Monday morning.

“I send my deepest sympathies and condolences to Victoria’s Jewish community at this challenging and distressing time. These horrific acts will cause harm and untold suffering that will be felt all around the global Jewish diaspora,” she said in a statement.

“I reaffirm the Victorian Government’s unwavering support – and my own personal support – for the Jewish community and the right for the state of Israel to exist. The Victorian Government condemns these acts and stands in solidarity with Israel and its people.”

The Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel said it stands “with Israel, its people, and Jewish communities across the world, all of whom are hurting deeply”.

“The point must be made very clearly: these disgusting attacks show Hamas for what they truly are. Hamas terrorists are firing rockets at cities and towns, going door-to-door attempting to murder civilians in their homes, taking civilian hostages and even marching the stolen bodies of their victims through the streets,” co-convenors David Southwick and Paul Hamer said.

“This is not about peace or any solution to the situation in the Middle East – it is about Hamas’ depraved, genocidal belief in eradicating Israel and the Jewish people.”

In NSW, Member for Vaucluse Kellie Sloane said, “Our community is impacted deeply by these events, as many people in the eastern suburbs have family and friends in Israel.

“I speak for many when I say our broader community shares the pain of this war too, and we stand together in our opposition to these acts of terrorism.”

The Mayor of Woollahra Council in Sydney, Richard Shields, moved a mayoral minute on Monday night condemning the attack and resolving to fly the Israeli flag at the Council Chambers in solidarity.

“I call on my Council colleagues to support the condemnation of these deadly attacks and to join me in recognising and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and to protect its civilians,” the newly-elected mayor, who is a member of Sydney’s Jewish community, said.

“With such a significant number of our local Woollahra community being of Jewish faith, with immediate and distant relatives in Israel, I am devastated to think of the impact this attack has had and will continue to have on them.”

The Mayor of neighbouring Waverley Council, Paula Masselos, expressed her deep shock at the attacks in a media statement.

“”It is devastating to learn of such tragic and unprovoked attacks on innocent people, and the loss of life is heartbreaking” Mayor Masselos said.

“My thoughts are with the community at this time, and I express my deepest condolences to families who have loved ones who have been killed, injured, displaced by this dreadful violence or who are missing.”

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