“STATE ZIONIST COUNCIL SOLIDARITY RALLY”
MONDAY, 25 JUNE 2007
Almost a year ago, I was honoured to stand here with you in support of Israel. At that time, Israel was under sustained and unprovoked attack by terrorists from Gaza and Lebanon. At that time, the heroic men and women of the Israeli Defence Force were defending the people of Israel. These brave men and women risked their lives to protect innocent civilians from despicable acts. Three of them disappeared during the fighting.
On this day a year ago, eight terrorists from Hamas snuck into Israel, killed two soldiers and kidnapped Gilad Shalit. A few weeks later, on 12 July, a group of Hezbollah terrorists shelled northern Israel and launched a raid against an IDF convoy. They killed three people and kidnapped Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Those who committed these acts are terrorists and criminals. The courageous men they kidnapped were defending their country, democracy and the rule of law. And we are here today to call for their release.
But let us not forget, that these three soldiers were defending their homeland. Defending Israel from those who seek its destruction. Let us not forget, that Israel was under attack from within the borders of two territories which it does not occupy and over which it makes no claim. Let us not forget, that Israel was under attack from within territories from which it had withdrawn in an effort to forge peace. Israel did not provoke. It was Israel that was attacked.
And let us not forget, the territories from which these kidnappings and attacks were launched claim to be democracies. But real democracies respect the rule of law. Real democracies do not take hostages. Real democracies do not allow entities within their borders to operate outside the law – to launch attacks on their neighbours and to kidnap their citizens. And now Hamas, as if to leave the world in no doubt as to their view of the rule of law, have shed the disguise of a sham democracy. But no one standing here today was ever fooled by them.
I am proud that during the attacks of last year, Australia was one of the few nations which recognised Israel’s right to defend itself. Australia has always stood by the people of Israel and always will. But ultimately, it is because of soldiers like Udi, Eldad and Gilad that the nation of Israel still stands.
We are here today because these three Israeli men do not deserve to languish a moment longer. Their families do not deserve to spend another moment in torment. And that is why we must remain resolute in our advocacy for their release.
I acknowledge the tireless efforts of all who support these men and their families. And I encourage you to continue. It is because of such efforts, that the fate of these men cannot be ignored. And the Australian Government joins with you in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of these kidnapped soldiers.
Today we send an unmistakeable message: these three men do not deserve to spend another day in captivity. And we will not rest until they are free.