Scott Morrison has become the first Australian politician to visit Israel in the wake of the Jewish state’s conflict with Hamas.
The former prime minister landed at Ben Gurion airport alongside former British prime minister Boris Johnson on Sunday afternoon, The Australian reported.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to join former Prime Minister Johnson to come to Israel as a demonstration of solidarity with the people and State of Israel and the Jewish community throughout the world,” Mr Morrison said on Sunday.
“It is an opportunity to understand first hand what is occurring on the ground, honour those who have been lost, show support to those who have suffered and are now engaged in this terrible conflict and discuss how to move forward.”
Hamas’s cross-border assault on Israel October 7 killed at least 1400 people and 240 people were taken hostage. Four hostages have been since been released.
Israel has since closed the borders to the territory, launched a ground assault and the continued bombardment has killed at least 9500 people.
Mr Morrison, whose government recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2018, last week signed a joint-letter last week unequivocally condemning the actions of Hamas and the creepings of anti-semitism in Australia.
The six former leaders said there was no place for racial or religious hatred in Australia and warned against allowing the Israel-Hamas war to “turn Australians against each other”.
“It was the single greatest massacre of Jewish since the Holocaust and its grotesque cruelty and violence was comparable to that of ISIS,” the statement said, referring to the ISIL armed group.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese previously said he had no plans to visit Israel following the conflict. He has repeatedly reiterated his support for Israel’s right to defend itself but sharpened his rhetoric last week, insisting Israel must observe the rules of law.
“The civilian toll is quite rightly causing enormous concern around the world,” he said at a conference in Melbourne on Thursday.
“Every effort has to be made to ensure that innocent civilians are protected to every extent possible.
“It is very difficult because of the way that Hamas operates with the use of civilian infrastructure being mixed with what is effectively military infrastructure … but every single effort has to be made.”