Interview - ABC NEWS BREAKFAST - Gaza-Israel Conflict

19 October 2023


Minister for Early Childhood Education

Minister for Youth

SUBJECTS: Gaza-Israel conflict



LISA MILLAR, ABC NEWS BREAKFAST: Let's return to our top story, the Israel Gaza war and someone watching on with increasingly grave concerns is the first Muslim woman to have been elected to Federal Parliament Minister Anne Aly, who joins us now. Minister, good morning. Thanks for coming on the programme.






LISA MILLAR: Can I just start by asking how are you doing? How are you going when you're watching what's going on over there in the Middle East?



DR ANNE ALY: Well, as someone who was born in the region and who is of Arabic cultural heritage and of course part of the Muslim faith community, I understand wholeheartedly the pain and the grief that is engulfing Australian Palestinians, Australian Arabs and Australian Muslims at the moment. And I understand that it is a cumulative, accumulative grief. It's not just about the current escalation of violence and war, but a grief that has cumulated over decades of occupation and sporadic aggression and violence in the region.


LISA MILLAR: And do you think that that feeling and that sense is being adequately verbalised by your own government?


DR ANNE ALY: I understand that Palestinians feel that they are not being heard and that they are invisible, and that's a grievance that I hear often from the community. I do think, however, that our government has been balanced in its approach and balanced in its response and in the commentary in comparison. Say, for example, to Peter Dutton, who argued that Israel should not hold back at all and should show no restraint. We have called for restraint. We have called for Israel to abide by the international laws, the rules of engagement in war. And I think that those are messages that are very clearly to the community that we grieve over the loss of every innocent life in Palestine and Israel.



LISA MILLAR: Anne Aly, your colleague Ed Husic has this morning spoken extensively about this and he's made a couple of comments that no doubt people will be talking about today, including that he feels that Palestinian people are being punished for the barbarism of Hamas.



DR ANNE ALY: Well, you've got over 3000 people have died in Palestine, have been killed in Palestine in just two weeks. Over 1000 of them are children. It's difficult to argue that those children are Hamas. And it's difficult to argue that what is currently occurring is not a form of collective punishment, where the Palestinian people have been cut off from food, from water, from aid, where the Rafa crossing their way out of Palestine through Egypt has been bombed. So, it is difficult to argue that they are not being collectively punished by these actions.



LISA MILLAR: Where does that leave you, given that the government that you're a part of has passed this motion? As you've said, you support Israel's right to defend itself, but the greens have been saying “no, no, Let's change the language and stop this idea of a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip” I mean, from the words you've been using. What we've been hearing from Ed Husic, it's hard not to think that maybe you'd prefer to be taking the line that the Greens have been suggesting.



DR ANNE ALY: Look, I think it was entirely appropriate, and Ed and I discuss this often I think it was entirely appropriate that in our first week back in parliament after the Hamas attacks, it is entirely appropriate that we pass a motion in the parliament to condemn the Hamas attacks. That is entirely appropriate, but with the escalation of violence, and that was something that I feared from the very beginning, that the escalation of violence would mean that there would be more Palestinian lives lost. And that has come to pass, and it will continue. And to urge Israel to abide by the rules of law that have been developed by the international community to protect the human rights of civilians during conflict. And if you look at the motion that we passed, it does also talk about the ongoing conflict. And the Prime Minister and Penny Wong, the Foreign Minister, have been very careful to also talk about the loss of civilian lives in Palestine as well.



LISA MILLAR: Do you suggest that Israel is committing war crimes?



DR ANNE ALY: I think that there are people who have said that. What I would urge is that Israel abide by the rules of war. They are there for a reason. The international community agreed on the rules of war for a reason. War, I think, is probably, sadly, an inevitable part of the human condition. But the rules of war are there for a reason, and they are there to protect innocent civilians. Right now, over 3000 innocent civilians, including over 1000 children in Palestine, have been killed.



LISA MILLAR: And just to be completely clear, you said people have said Israel's committed war crimes. Do you believe that Israel has committed war crimes?



DR ANNE ALY: Well, I think that is something that is possibly something that could be investigated. And I think that anyone, any state or any group that commits war crimes should be investigated and should be held accountable.



LISA MILLAR: Anne Aly, appreciate your time this morning.



DR ANNE ALY: Thank you.