Australians in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories may be running out of time to leave, with the Defence Minister warning no further repatriation flights are planned.
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Around 700 people have been assisted to leave Israel on RAAF and chartered flights since the conflict broke out, just under 600 of whom are Australians. Richard Marles now says the government is not planning more flights out of Tel Aviv at this stage.
“We believe that these flights do meet the immediate demand on the part of Australians to leave Israel. That said, we are keeping a couple of Air Force planes in the region as a contingency over the coming days,” the minister said.
“There’s about 10,000 Australians who live in Israel, most of whom are dual citizens. We never anticipated obviously, that that whole population would want to leave. In fact, we were sure that most of those would want to stay. But we knew that there would be a demand and that was always thought to be measured in the hundreds, and that’s as it’s turned out to be.”
The Defence Minister also said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been in contact with at least 45 Australians in Gaza, a number which has grown over the course of the last day.
“Obviously, we are working with those people to look at ways in which we can get them to safety. Clearly, people that are in Gaza right now are in a very, very difficult situation,” he said.
“We are encouraging them to move south within Gaza, to heed the call of Israel in that respect and we’re working with our friends in the international community to see whether a humanitarian corridor can be established out of Gaza, but at this stage, that hasn’t happened.”
Two planned charter flights out of Tel Aviv were cancelled over the weekend, including a second Qantas 787 service scheduled for Sunday.
One earlier flight on Friday was able to transfer stranded citizens to London, with an A380 flight taking passengers to Sydney still scheduled to go ahead.
Emirates has also announced an A380 repatriation flight from Dubai to Sydney, to leave Thursday.
Australians in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories who want to leave and don’t already have plans to depart should register via DFAT’s Crisis Portal or by calling the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).