Australians flown out of Israel on three flights

A fourth repatriation flight is being planned to evacuate Australians from Israel, which could be the last for the foreseeable future as the conflict escalates.

 

Oct 16, 2023, updated Oct 17, 2023
Photo: AAP

Photo: AAP

Australians fleeing Israel have been flown out on three repatriation flights overnight, with those remaining warned there may only be one more chance to escape the conflict zone.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the Australians were flown to Dubai on two RAAF flights, and a privately contracted one.

About 1200 Australians had received help to leave Israel, she said.

The government was trying to arrange another flight on Monday to bring Australians home, and urged people to leave if they wanted to, she said.

“People should consider that may be our last flight for the foreseeable future,” she told the ABC.

Penny Wong says evacuation flights out of Israel remain subject to the changing security situation.

The chartered and defence planes left on Sunday after scheduled repatriation flights were cancelled the previous day.

Australia’s parliament will pay tribute to the devastating scenario Israel is going through after an attack by terrorist group Hamas killed and injured thousands.

The government will move motions in both houses when parliament resumes this week.

Wong said evacuation flights remained subject to the rapidly changing security situation.

“We also co-ordinating options with partners who are helping their own citizens with departures,” she told reporters in Adelaide on Sunday.

Australian Defence Force planes also remain on standby to evacuate citizens from Israel after scheduled repatriation flights were cancelled due to security concerns.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said flights could be put in place almost immediately when the green light was given.

“But there are other circumstances beyond our control that potentially make it all difficult,” he said.

This includes whether Israel closes its airspace.

The government is working with commercial carriers to help Australians get home from Dubai after leaving Israel.

Wong is also working on securing the safe passage of citizens out of occupied Palestinian territories.

A proposed window to allow for approved foreign nationals to leave didn’t eventuate and the Rafah border crossing remains closed.

Wong said she was working with the Egyptians and Israelis to establish a safe humanitarian corridor.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is of serious concern and continues to deteriorate,” she said.

“I know how distressing this is for Australians in Gaza, I want to reiterate our commitment to do everything we can to ensure the border is opened.”

The foreign minister called on humanitarian law to be protected as she reaffirmed Australia’s support for Israel to defend itself after the attack.

Marles said he would not cast judgment about how Israel retaliated with Tel Aviv’s blockade of food, water and fuel to Gaza condemned as collective punishment against innocents by international humanitarian groups.

He said while it was important Israel acted within the rules of war, he believed they were doing so.

“I’m not casting a negative judgment on what they’re doing,” he said.

“But … I’m not sitting in their control room either, I don’t have all the information available to me that they will have to them.”

Pro-Palestine protests continued across the weekend calling for an end to Israeli occupation.

Wong said Australians had a right to protest peacefully but “do not have a right to engage in hatred or anti-Semitism”.

“We must make sure the Jewish community feels supported and protected,” she said after previous Pro-Palestine protests in Australia resulted in the burning of an Israeli flag and anti-Semitic chants.

-AAP

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