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More flights announced to airlift Australians out of Israel

The RAAF has the planes to get Australians to safety now that Qantas flights have been cancelled.

The RAAF has the planes to get Australians to safety now that Qantas flights have been cancelled.

Australians stranded in Israel have been given fresh hope as the government announces more evacuation flights.

The news comes after two of three scheduled repatriation departures were cancelled due to security concerns.

A third Qantas flight, which departed Israel for London on Friday,  arrived safely at Heathrow.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong says a number of flights will take off from Tel Aviv on Sunday – subject to the security environment.

“We are co-ordinating options with partners who are helping their citizens with departures,” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We are also arranging flights to assist travellers with their onward journey from Dubai to Australia.

“We continue working on options for Australians wanting to leave the occupied Palestinian territories.”

The RAAF is also standing ready to evacuate Australians from Israel after two scheduled Qantas flights were cancelled due to the deteriorating security situation.

Defence Minister Richard Marles says the government has been looking at all available options to get Australian citizens to safety, but some things are out of its control, such as if Israel closes its airspace.

“We are positioned, we have the intent to put in place flights very soon, almost immediately,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“There is some greater flexibility that military flights offer in this circumstance.”

More than 800 Australians have left Israel on government assisted flights, but uncertainty remains for hundreds of others who have registered to leave.

Other options … take them

Australians have been told if they have other options to leave, they should take them.

Australia is among dozens of countries evacuating their citizens from Israel.

Hamas reportedly fired a rocket that landed near Israel’s main airport on Saturday night, just hours after the repatriation flights were cancelled.

The Palestinian militant group is expected to make the airport a major target as Israel prepares to launch a full scale ground offensive in Gaza.

Mr Marles said Australia supported Israel’s right to defend itself.

“Israel has a right to act against Hamas,”  he said. “It is an absolute tragedy what is now playing out.

“It’s a tragedy for the innocent Israelis who have been victims of this, but obviously a tragedy for innocent Palestinians who find themselves in the middle of this.”

He added that Israel was acting within the rules of war when asked about Tel Aviv cutting access to food, water and electricity to Gaza.

“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.”

The defence minister said he didn’t have information linking Iran to the attack and that Australia would continue to seek a diplomatic relationship with Tehran despite condemning its actions in the region.

“Diplomatic missions are not just there when you have good relationships with countries,” he said.

“In some respects, some of the most important diplomatic missions one has in place are where the relationships are at their most difficult and that would be a fair way to describe our relationship with Iran.”

-with AAP

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