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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6778


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (09:48): Prayer vigils are being held across Australia for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped on 12 June 2014. The three boys—Eyal Yifrah, 19; Naftali Fraenkel, 16; and Gilad Shaar, 16—are seminary students in Kfar Etzion. They were kidnapped while hitchhiking a ride home last Thursday night. A nationwide petition has been circulated calling for the Australian government to convey to the Palestinian authority that it should coordinate with Israel to secure the release of these three teenagers. Indeed, Mr Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have pledged assistance in finding the boys. This is to be welcomed. However, Hamas, Fatah's new partner, condemned Palestinian cooperation, referring to the kidnappers as 'heroes'. It is also welcome that Egypt is cooperating with search efforts, while other nations and the UN Secretary-General have condemned the kidnapping.

I remind the chamber that Hamas, which is officially listed by this parliament as a terrorist organisation, has denied involvement. Some months ago it published an 18-page manual on abduction techniques entitled 'Guide for the Kidnapper'. This outlined the use of pistols with silencers, back-up cars, the choice of abductions on rainy days, the renting of hide-outs to avoid suspicion, and suggestions for refraining from announcing the outcome of kidnappings until the victims are secured in a safe house.

Many NGOs have formal and informal workings with Hamas. Some such as UNRA, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and the Red Cross are beneficiaries of Australian taxpayers' financial support. I am aware that at least the International Committee of Red Cross and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against these abductions, and I trust that other NGOs working in the region will follow suit. The next step for such NGOs should be to use their influence on the Hamas organisation to secure the release of these teenagers unharmed.

I will not go into the moral swamp of the comparison of the arrest of people who throw rocks on cars on public highways. They are being arrested under law and taken to juvenile courts. Compare that with the kidnapping of these three teenagers. Everyone should abide by the laws of countries. Kidnapping young people like this, indeed any people, for ransom is a terrible thing. It is a terrible thing not only for their sake but also for the sake of their families.

For the sake of the peace process between the two peoples, the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, these boys should be returned safe and sound. A lasting and fair peace will not be possible when students cannot get to and from school without full security. (Time expired)