EXCLUSIVE: The former Australian ambassador to Israel says Hamas is the only party which can end the Gaza conflict and Israeli airstrikes are broadly a defensive measure.
In an exclusive with Sky News Liberal MP Dave Sharma has discussed his firsthand experiences in Israel where he was stationed as ambassador from 2013 to 2017 during the last major conflict with Hamas. Mr Sharma said the goals set by Hamas were not “conventional” and civilian deaths strengthened the propaganda arm of the military organisation.
“They don’t really care about their own civilian population and in fact and perversely civilian casualties on the Gaza side kind of strengthen arm in the propaganda and information war,” he said. “There’s command posts under hospitals. There’s rocket launches under schools. There’s Hamas intelligence posts in civilian hotels.
“It’s very difficult for the IDF and Israel to operate because Hamas is embedded in civilian infrastructure in Gaza.” Mr Sharma said Hamas would likely end the violence when they achieved a sufficient “propaganda victory” to secure their hold on power or they ran out of firepower. “When does Hamas stop?
Either when they think they’ve given themselves enough of a propaganda victory … or if their leadership and military infrastructure and arsenal becomes so degraded because of Israeli counterstrikes,” he said. “The only reason this conflict is underway is because Hamas was firing rockets – dozens, tens, hundreds overnight at Israeli civilian populations.
“No government is going to accept that or tolerate it or just absorb it. Israel is only striking back because Hamas keeps firing the rockets.”