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Last foreseeable flight out of Israel, Aussies warned

No relief in sight in Israle-Hamas conflict

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

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

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

There were 255 people on the three overnight flights, with the majority of those Australians, some accompanied by non-citizen family members.

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

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

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

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said it was legal for Australians to go to a foreign country and fight with that nation’s armed forces, but it was unlawful to fight for a terrorist organisation such as Hamas.

“What is happening in the Middle East now is not a war between two nation states,” she told the ABC’s RN.

“It is a war between a nation state and a terrorist organisation, a terrorist organisation that has just in the most inhuman way murdered innocent men, women and children.”

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 said in Adelaide on Sunday.

Defence Minister Richard Marles backed the call for people to leave when they can, warning “it could all change at a moment’s notice”.

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

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.

She 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.

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

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

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

– AAP

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