Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I wish to make a statement on behalf of the Jewish community of Victoria regarding the recent kidnapping by Palestinian terrorists of three Israeli teenagers — Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel — which occurred on 12 June while the boys were travelling home. This was a brazen act of terrorism. It has shocked and traumatised the families of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, as well as many in Jewish communities around the world. It is never acceptable that innocent children are targets for kidnapping in aid of terror. The whole civilised world must condemn this act of terrorism. The boys must return home to their families safely. Such an act of terrorism demands a response from the Australian government.
Last week a petition was organised by David Marlow and Nina Bassett from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. The petition calls on the federal government to convey to the Palestinian Authority its firm belief that the authority must cooperate and coordinate with Israeli authorities in their efforts to secure the release of these teenagers. It also asks that the federal government request non‑government organisations, such as United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and the Red Cross, which are beneficiaries of Australian taxpayer support, to exercise their influence on Hamas to ensure that the teenagers are released unharmed. We have had 3400 members of the Victorian community sign the petition in its first few days, and as co‑convener of Parliamentary Friends of Israel, I stand alongside the Jewish community and my colleague and co‑convener, the member for Footscray, who also stands united with us in the call to bring the boys home.