Australians in Gaza total 45 as food, water supplies dwindle

Advertisements

“We were told [the Rafah crossing] will open today; we went, waited for five hours, standing on our feet before we were turned back. So shattered… feeling helpless,” he said via email.

Last Friday, the family joined Palestinians fleeing south after being told to evacuate the territory’s north by the Israeli Defence Forces. They were sent a notice by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to follow the Israeli evacuation order.

On Sunday, he said he received a phone call from a DFAT officer telling him to head to Rafah, where he would be able to cross into Egypt, “only to receive another phone call shortly after we got there telling us that the crossing opening plans have fallen through”.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said repatriation flights for Australians in Israel have ceased due to lack of immediate need.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said repatriation flights for Australians in Israel have ceased due to lack of immediate need.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Deputy Prime Minister Richards Marles on Tuesday said the number of people known to be in Gaza had risen from 19 to 45 and included families.

“Their situation is obviously extremely difficult. We are looking at ways in which and working very hard to find ways in which we can get those people to safety, and that obviously includes working with other countries around the establishment of a humanitarian corridor out of Gaza. That hasn’t happened yet, but we are doing what we can in very challenging circumstances,” he said.

Marles said he did not know if all the Australians had made their way to the Egyptian border. “I don’t have the full details on that,” he said. “Clearly, we have been encouraging them, however, to move south [towards Rafah], given what Israel has said … but I can’t actually confirm where all of those 45 are right now.”

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip.Credit: AP

Abdo Sultan said Palestinian-Australians in Gaza felt forgotten by the Australian government. “The support isn’t really there, it has not been given the same attention [as Australians in Israel],” she said. “Even in Australia, their families don’t feel supported. They’re given a hotline to call, just another ticket in the line.”

She said many of the Australians had gone to visit family in Gaza before the conflict broke out and were now largely unreachable because of limited access to electricity.

“Their only point of communication is through family members here, and there hasn’t been transparency or clear communication between government and family here to relay that information,” she said.

Loading

“They haven’t felt like the government’s priority. From the moment [the Hamas attack on October 7] happened, and we saw an immediate response by the Australian government to evacuate Australians out of Israel, we needed to see intervention.

Advertisements

“We’re 10 days into the issues unfolding in Gaza, and we still don’t have an answer. There’s still not clear direction. It’s concerning.”

The federal government has chartered several repatriation flights from Israel, carrying about 1200 Australians from the conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 1400 Israelis and 2600 Palestinians since Hamas launched its October 7 assault on southern Israel.

It has now ceased repatriation flights for Australians in Israel because of a lack of immediate need, Marles said on Tuesday.

Of the 194 people on two flights organised by the government from Tel Aviv overnight, 96 were from other Pacific nations that Australia has agreed to help get home.

“There were empty seats again on the planes last night. They were slightly more full than the night before… but this right now is as much as we are planning to do, so we don’t have any more planned flights,” Marles said.

Albanese said some people had chosen not to take up offered places on repatriation flights. “If people are seeking to leave and they’re offered a place – please take it,” he said. “This is a very volatile situation.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton on Monday said Israel should not show restraint in retaliating to Hamas’ attack, on Tuesday he said an Israeli ground invasion was “inevitable”.

Loading

His rhetoric contrasted with the Albanese government, as well as US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, who have asserted Israel’s right to defend itself but more recently urged it to protect civilian lives.

However, the opposition’s foreign affairs spokesman, Simon Birmingham, did not explicitly back Dutton’s position when he spoke to the ABC on Tuesday morning. Instead, Birmingham echoed language used by Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong.

“The fact is that Israel has a right to defend itself, but also that it should show regard to civilian life,” he said.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter.

Source link

Advertisements

Scroll to Top