Former British prime minister Boris Johnson and former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison visited Israel on Sunday, and toured southern Israeli border towns devastated by the October 7 Hamas onslaught.
Visiting Kibbutz Kfar Aza, where 100 residents were slaughtered by Hamas, Johnson said what he had seen was “horrifying” and he wished that people around the world could see with “clarity” what had happened — “so people could be under no illusions about the savagery, the sadism, the lack of humanity of Hamas terrorists.”
“Of course, it is right for Israel to take the necessary steps… to stop that happening again,” he said.
Asked about calls overseas for a ceasefire, he said it was not for the international community to tell Israel how to proceed. When there are 240 hostages, “when you have a crime on this scale, and when there’s the possibility of it happening again, I don’t think it’s the business of the world to tell Israel to stop,” he said.
Johnson said earlier in the day that he was in Israel “to show my support, my solidarity, with the people of Israel after that appalling attack” on October 7, “the worst atrocity, the worst massacre of Jewish people, that we’ve seen since the Second World War.”
Speaking to Channel 12 news, Johnson said he also wanted to highlight that “since that appalling massacre of October 7, you’re seeing a kind of fog descend, a moral fog, and I just want to remind people of the absolute barbarism of what took place and to make it clear that Israel has the right to defend itself.”
“There can be no moral equivalence between the terrorism of Hamas and the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces,” added Johnson.
Asked about the massive rallies in London and other UK cities that support or at least downplay Hamas’s October 7 atrocities, he said: “I would say to everybody marching across the world right now, supposedly in support of ‘free Palestine,’ in fact what they are doing, whether they intend it or not, is condoning the brutality and the murder that was conducted by those Hamas terrorists — and which, by the way, they would do again.”
“And that is why it is so important that Israel is given the time and the space to do what it needs to do — to catch the murderers and to make sure that they can’t do it again,” said the former UK prime minister.
He repeated those sentiments at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, saying that those who are marching, “whether they like it or not, they are giving moral support and comfort to the terrorists who did this.”
At least 12 British nationals were among some 1,400 people killed in Hamas’s cross-border attack on October 7, and five are suspected to be included in the over 240 hostages being held by the terror group in Gaza. A British minister has also suggested that dual nationals whom Hamas has not allowed to leave the Gaza Strip “could be classed as hostages.”
Asked whether October 7 and the UK protests in support of Hamas mark a wake-up call for the UK and Europe, Johnson said: “It shows we can never be complacent about antisemitism. It shows we’ve got to be vigilant. But I’m afraid it also shows that Hamas has become, perhaps always was, an ISIS-like death cult. And it is going to require a security solution.”
Describing London as one of the “safest big cities in the world,” Johnson said the UK “should not tolerate antisemitism. I don’t think that we should tolerate inflammatory language, incitement to persecution of any group, in our city and in our country.”
“I want people also to understand: antisemitism is like a spore of a virus. The tragic truth is that for centuries it lurks beneath the floorboards — in Western Europe, across the world. People are misled, misguided into expressing this kind of nonsense,” he went on.
London “should be safe for all communities and it should be safe for Jewish people,” he stressed when at Kfar Aza. “Where there is antisemitism, where there is hatred, the law must come down like a ton of bricks.”
Johnson and Morrison were hosted on the visit by Likud MK Danny Danon, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Morrison said he was “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.
“It is an opportunity to understand firsthand what is occurring on the ground, honor 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,” he said.
Both the UK and Australia have seen pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protests. One Sydney rally saw antisemitic chants of “gas the Jews” and “f— the Jews.”
Morrison was ousted in a May 2022 election by the center-left party of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Meanwhile, Johnson is under increasing pressure at home amid a public inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by his government. There were nearly 130,000 fatalities recorded in Britain by mid-July 2021, one of the worst official COVID-19 death counts in the world.
Johnson was ousted last year after a string of scandals, including controversy around lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street. He quit as an MP in June after lawmakers found he had deliberately misled them about the affair.
A number of world leaders have visited Israel since Hamas carried out its devastating assault on October 7, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and French President Emmanuel Macron.