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Sophie on the Israel Gaza conflict

13 February, 2024

The barbaric attacks on the people of Israel of 7 October shocked and horrified the people of Mackellar. Our hearts broke for the affected families and the people of Israel. The earnest hope and call still is for all hostages to be reunited with their families.

In recent months I have also received an enormous amount of correspondence from people in Mackellar about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza—far more than for any other issue since I was elected. The nearly 1,000 emails from Mackellar constituents expressed deep distress at the ongoing and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza and horror as the death toll steadily rises, thousands upon thousands. In these letters, constituents implore me to urge our government to use our country's respected voice to call unambiguously and strongly for a ceasefire, to call for the killing of civilians and children to stop and to call for Israel to ensure that adequate levels of aid reach the people of Gaza to prevent the real risk of more people dying every day from starvation, dehydration and exposure. I worry how often such calls for a ceasefire or criticism of Israel's military actions are misconstrued or mislabelled as attacks on Jewish people. They are not. It is humanitarianism, not antisemitism, and no government should be above being held to account.

It is possible to hold two truths in your heart at the same time—in this case, a deep concern for the people, and the plight, of Israel and a desperation to see the killing of innocent people and children in Gaza stopped immediately. The preliminary ruling of the International Court of Justice that there is a plausible case of genocide for Israel to answer is extremely grave. So I thank the Albanese government for their repeated assertions that the way Israel defends itself matters. I welcome Australia's comments in support of the ICJ that it plays a critical role in upholding international humanitarian law. I welcomed Australia's vote last December in the UN General Assembly calling for a humanitarian ceasefire and an immediate release of hostages. But so much more needs to be done and urgently, particularly as we learn that thousands more are at risk of being killed in Rafah, where tens of thousands have crammed into this small area as the only supposed remaining safe place in Gaza.

So I urge the government to again call strongly for an immediate ceasefire, and I urge the government immediately to resume financial support for UNRWA. I urge the government to call Israel to not proceed with its planned military assault in Rafah. I thank all the people who have written to me for not looking the other way. (Time expired)