The situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is heartbreaking. We have witnessed a devastating loss of innocent lives on both sides. In the aftermath of the Hamas attack, 34 Novocastrians were among the thousands of Australians trapped in Israel, holed up in a hotel in Tel Aviv. Thankfully, the last members of the Newcastle group have now left Israel. It is a welcome relief for their families and friends back home, whom I have been in regular contact with. I want to acknowledge the West family, who worked day and night to ensure the group got out of the country safely.
My focus now is ensuring everybody in the Newcastle community feels safe and respected. I know our Muslim and Jewish communities will be feeling the heavy toll of this war. I have reached out to the rabbi in the Newcastle synagogue and the two mosques in my electorate to extend my condolences and express our community's collective concern about the tragic loss of lives and the wellbeing of people in Israel and Gaza. Novocastrians stand alongside our Jewish and Muslim communities in Newcastle. We are united in our efforts to secure lasting peace. People of all faiths are praying for peace. It is my hope that the international community will work together to help this unbearable violence of war stop, and ensure a peaceful and just resolution for the good of all.