Additional flights will be dispatched to ferry Australians in Israel to safety after revelations 19 Australians are stuck in Gaza amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis.
Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong on Friday confirmed that additional assisted departure flights would be available for the more than 10,000 Australians in Israel who wanted to leave.
At least 1600 of those people had officially registered with the Department of Foreign Affair and Trade as Senator Wong urged all those who wished to leave to “do not delay”.
Two repatriation flights have already been secured with the help of Qantas to carry hundreds of Australians out of Israel to safety in London.
The first repatriation flight for Australians in Israel will occur on Friday, with 200 people on-board.
Senator Wong on Friday morning confirmed an additional two charter flights.
Qantas has “agreed to support” Australians arriving in London on the assisted departure flights by offering a flight from London to Sydney, via Singapore, “free of charge”.
“The Australian government will continue to work on options for onward travel from Dubai and to support those who cannot reach Tel Aviv,” Senator Wong and Transport Minister Catherine King said in a joint statement.
The government has also urged Australians who can cross into Jordan to do so but alert DFAT beforehand
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government was looking to help the Australians registered to be in Gaza out of the conflict zone, but the situation remained fraught.
Israel declared war after Hamas – recognised by Australia as a terrorist organisation – launched a surprise operative on the weekend, murdering innocent Israelis in their homes and at music festivals, and taking about 100 people hostage.
Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been killed.
The Palestinian territory has also been completely cut off after Israel announced it would not supply food, electricity, or medical supplies unless Hamas releases the hostages, with the Egyptian border shut.
The United Nations has called the situation in the Gaza Strip “dire” and warned of the “devastating” impacts.
Mr Albanese said DFAT was “working around the clock to ensure that Australians are kept safe” wherever they are.
“There are some 19 people who’ve registered to try to leave Gaza,” Mr Albanese told 9 News.
“We’re speaking with the Egyptian government as well about how we can get those people out of that area into safety as well.
“This is a complex exercise, but Australia is doing what it can.”
An Adelaide family who are in Gaza visiting family has told The Daily Telegraph how fearful they are for their life.
Senator Wong said she had not personally had any contact with the Australians in Gaza but officials had.
“The situation in Gaza is extremely difficult. We are engaging with Egypt, as is the United States, about seeking to establish humanitarian corridors, but obviously the situation on the ground is extremely difficult.”
He said the government was “willing to accept everyone’s offer” after Qatar Airways and partner Virgin offered assistance.
Senator Wong urged any Australians who wish to leave “to not delay”.
“You can register with us and we will seek to make contact with all who are registered and wish to leave aboard available flights,” she said.
It comes as tensions flare back home after a pro-Palestine rally earlier this week outside the Sydney Opera House descended into anti-Semitism.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has doubled down on his calls for visa holders caught up in the event to be deported.
ASIO boss Mike Burgess issued a rare public message on Thursday warning against inflaming tensions, saying “words matter”.
Amid suggestions Mr Burgess made the rare intervention because of Mr Dutton’s calls for deportation, Mr Dutton said he had spoken to the ASIO boss who was “understandably concerned” about some of the scenes playing out in Australia.
“If people are saying that they’re going to ‘gas the Jews’ or ‘eff the Jews’, that sort of conduct doesn’t have any place in our country,” he told Channel 9.
“It’s been condemned absolutely and rightly, that does incite violence.”
Mr Dutton told Sky News it was “disturbing” and “grotesque” that anyone would support the acts of a listed terrorist organisation.
Mr Albanese said if Mr Dutton had “any evidence that any of these people were temporary visa holders, he should go to authorities”.
He said whether protesters should be charged was a matter for NSW Police.
“When people break the law, police should take action,” he told Channel 7.
Senator Wong said Mr Burgess’ warning should come as a reminder that Australians should be “brought together, not to divide them”.
“This is not a time for certain politicians to be seeking to play into the fear and division in the community. It is time for all of us to say we stand against all hatred, all prejudice,” she said.
“It is a time for us to come together. We know this is distressing for the Jewish community. We know there are many in Australia who have very strong views about Palestinian aspiration and I would say to this, one of the great tragedies, apart from the horrific nature of Hamas’s activities, is they have pushed further away the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.”