Penny Wong urges Australians to call family amid ‘distressing’ attacks on Israel and Gaza

Key Points
  • Foreign Minister Penny Wong has issued new travel warnings as she urges Australians to get to safety.
  • Both Wong and the prime minister have condemned attacks on Israel by Hamas militants.
  • The Sydney Opera House will be lit in blue and white on Monday night to reflect the Israeli flag.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong has warned Australians not to travel to Gaza and reiterated Australia’s support of Israel, as the country reels from the most brutal attacks on it in half a century.
The federal government is trying to confirm the welfare of Australians caught up in the “abhorrent” attack by Islamist group Hamas on Israel, which has killed hundreds and injured thousands of people.
Hamas fighters attacked Israel towns on Saturday in the deadliest incursion since Egypt and Syria’s attacks in the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago.
More than 700 Israelis, including children, have been killed and 2,150 injured by the 3,284 rockets fired from the Gaza strip since Saturday, Israel Defense Forces have confirmed.
Overnight, Israel responded with retaliatory air strikes which killed at least 413 people and wounded 2,000 Gazans, the health ministry of the Palestinian Authority reported on Sunday.

The air strikes hit housing blocks, tunnels, mosques and homes of Hamas officials in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has condemned “egregious acts” by Hamas and expressed solidarity with Israel on behalf of the government. Source: AAP / Mick Tsikas

“We unequivocally condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire, the targeting of civilians and the taking of hostages. A particularly distressing and egregious act by Hamas,” Wong said on Monday morning.

“These are abhorrent acts and I again reiterate our call for all hostages to be released,” she said, with 100 Israelis reported to be held captive by a senior Hamas official on Sunday.

Senator Wong said she had spoken to her Israeli counterpart over the weekend to express Australia’s support for Israel and its right to defend itself.

Wong calls on Australians to contact loved ones

She also urged all Australians in Israel to contact their families to “assure us all of your safety”.

“I don’t have any information at this stage about any Australians hospitalised or injured. Or any fatalities,” she said.

“We are seeking to ascertain the welfare and whereabouts of Australians on the ground”.
Australia updated its travel advice on Monday, urging travellers to avoid Gaza ““.
It is also advising people in Israel and occupied Palestinian territories to exercise a high degree of caution.

Saturday’s surprise sea, land and air attack on Israel from Gaza prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare a “long and difficult war” ahead.

Netanyahu said Israel would take “mighty vengeance for this wicked day”.

Albanese denounces killing of Israeli citizens and warns against rise of antisemitism

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition leader Peter Dutton condemned attacks by Hamas, which has been classified as a terrorist organisation by Australia since 2001.
Albanese denounced the “indiscriminate killing of civilians and citizens”.
“This was a shock attack that was obviously very well planned and I think has shocked the world, the extent of which we haven’t seen for 50 years,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“Civilians shouldn’t be targeted in this and that is what is so horrific about Hamas’s indiscriminate actions that took place.”

He said that Australian government agencies were working around the clock to ensure the safe return of Australian citizens in the region, urging anyone concerned about relatives to contact 1300 555 135.
Dutton said that the Coalition “utterly condemns the unprovoked and abhorrent attack by militant Hamas on Israel”.
The prime minister has also highlighted “real concerns” about antisemitism in Australia following the attacks on Israel.

“Racism is always (present). Whether antisemitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of racism, it is always a bad thing,” the prime minister said on Sky News.

“We’ll do what we can to combat it, but also to provide support for vulnerable communities.”

Opera House to reflect Israeli flag

In a show of support for Israel, the Sydney Opera House, Parliament House and several buildings across Melbourne will turn blue and white to reflect the Israeli flag on Monday night.

On Sunday night, Australians gathered for a pro-Palestine rally in Lakemba in south-west Sydney with similar rallies held across cities worldwide, including New York.

The Australian National Imams Council declared their support for the Palestinian people following the air raids on Gaza.

“The Israeli forces continue to kill and injure thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians within the Gaza Strip and apply their standard collective punishment approach,” the council said in a statement.

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