Australian Defence Force aircraft and personnel deploy to Middle East

The ADF is sending aircraft and personnel to the Middle East in case the security situation worsens.

The ADF is sending aircraft and personnel to the Middle East in case the security situation worsens. Photo: AP

Australian Defence Force personnel and two additional RAAF aircraft will be sent to the Middle East as violence in Israel and Gaza intensifies.

Defence Minister Richard Marles confirmed the deployment was a precautionary measure that would support Australians in the region in case the security situation deteriorated.

As a result, there will be three RAAF aircraft in the area. The government has not identified where they will be deployed or the exact number of troops that will be with them.

“We want to make sure that we are prepared so that, if this does escalate, we’re in a position to act,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“Three aircraft gives us reasonably significant capacity to lift Australians out if an evacuation is required.”

Liberal senator Jane Hume said the opposition welcomed the measure.

“Any demonstration of unequivocal support for Israel at this time is fundamentally important,” she told Sunrise.

Any Australians remaining in the Middle East have been urged to leave while they still can as experts warn fallout from Israel and Gaza is likely to spread into neighbouring countries.

“If you are in the region now and you want to leave, you should take whatever commercial options are available to you,” Marles told Sky News.

“This is a very volatile situation and no one knows exactly how it will play out.”

Israeli airstrikes killed 700 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip overnight, the highest 24-hour death toll since Tel Aviv began its total blockade on the territory more than a fortnight ago.

Since then the Israeli government has laid siege to the 2.3 million Palestinians living in the territory, meaning no food, water, fuel or electricity has reached them.

Though some aid trucks have been allowed through, humanitarian organisations say there are not nearly enough to address the dire situation.

ADF troops and aircraft deployed to Middle East

The Australian government is working with 79 people who are trapped in Gaza. Marles acknowledged they were in a “very difficult situation”.

“We’re very much encouraging those people to move south within Gaza … but at this point, we’ve been unable to get those people out,” he said.

The news comes as Israel’s ambassador to Australia defends his nation’s right to self defence following the Palestinian death toll rising to more than 5000.

Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel left more than 1400 dead with about 200 people taken hostage.

Since then, retaliatory strikes have killed more than 5000 Palestinians and left a million displaced.

Ambassador Amir Maimon said Tel Aviv was acting in accordance with humanitarian law.

“Innocent Israelis are suffering following this barbaric attack of the Hamas,” he said.

“You don’t measure the legitimacy of the Israeli response by the number of the casualties.

“You measure it by the adherence of the Israeli government to the international law, we are adhering, complying to the international law.”

Maimon addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday as pressure mounted on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to visit Israel on his way home from the US.

Australia is continuing to call for a humanitarian corridor out of Gaza after Jordan secured the release of four Australians and a permanent resident from the West Bank.

Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong have said all innocent lives matter and have urged Israel to act in accordance with international law.

On Wednesday, Penny Wong posted a statement to X calling for “safe unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access, and safe passage for civilians” in the war zone.

Minister Ed Husic, a Muslim, has gone further than his cabinet colleagues, calling the blockade stopping fuel and supplies into Gaza “collective punishment”.

He said while no one disputed Israel’s right to defend itself against the terrible attack, he was simply calling for “a strategic, more precise way to deal with Hamas” that took into account the toll being borne by innocent Palestinians.

“People understand Hamas needs to be held to account, but there is genuinely a concern in the community,” he told ABC TV.

Hamas is a prescribed terrorist group by the Australian government.


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