A group of Australians with specialized skills have traveled to Israel to participate in the ongoing conflict against the Hamas organization. Meanwhile, approximately one million Palestinian citizens have been advised to relocate to the southern region of Gaza in anticipation of an expected Israeli ground invasion, which is likely to result in increased casualties.
The Australian government has arranged charter flights to facilitate the evacuation of Australian citizens from Israel. Israeli Ambassador to Australia, Amir Maimon, expressed Israel’s commitment to dealing a decisive blow to the Hamas militant group, which has been in control of Gaza since 2007.
According to a senior Israeli official, some Australian residents with specialized training are among the 360,000 reservists called upon to join the fight following Israel’s declaration of war against the terrorist group. Some reservists made their way to Israel from Australia via commercial flights in the past week, while others utilized a repatriation flight organized by the Israeli government.
The exact number of reservists leaving Australia to support Israel has not been confirmed. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement urging the citizens of Gaza City to relocate to the southern area, emphasizing that it is currently a site of military operations and advising the evacuation for their safety. The United Nations also received an evacuation order, which applies to approximately half of Gaza’s population, urging residents to move south within the next 24 hours.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant refrained from specifying the duration Palestinians have to relocate to the south of Gaza, but he encouraged civilians to do so for their safety. The primary objective of the forthcoming Israeli offensive is to target Hamas infrastructure, headquarters, and military facilities.
The United Nations expressed concerns about the humanitarian consequences of such an order, particularly for the 1.1 million people in the affected area. The international organization called for the order to be rescinded. The Israeli military plans to conduct substantial operations in Gaza City to target key Hamas sites but also aims to minimize harm to non-combatant civilians.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is in Tel Aviv to show support, stated that munitions, air defense capabilities, and interceptors for Israel’s Iron Dome system are being rapidly provided. Austin pledged additional assets if required and shared lessons learned from the fight against the Islamic State, particularly in urban warfare and the creation of safe humanitarian corridors.
A ground invasion of Gaza, Israel’s first since 2014, may result in intense combat and significant casualties among both troops and civilians. Israel is also grappling with the challenge of retrieving around 150 hostages smuggled across the border by Hamas, some of whom have tragically lost their lives.
Hamas has advised Gazans to stay in their homes and resist psychological warfare, while the Israeli military reported striking numerous military targets in northern Gaza, including tunnels, military facilities, residences of senior operatives, and weapons storage warehouses.
The International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concerns about the dwindling fuel supply for emergency generators in Gaza hospitals, as the United Nations World Food Programme warned of critically low food and fresh water supplies. The ongoing escalation of violence has resulted in significant loss of life on both sides.
In response to the deteriorating situation, the Australian government has organized charter flights from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to Dubai, in addition to Qantas flights to London, to assist Australian citizens. Departures from Gaza remain challenging due to the dangerous security situation, and Australians in Gaza are urged to contact the consular emergency center promptly.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, visiting Israel, expressed shock at the gruesome photos of Israeli victims shared with him by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken discussed efforts to identify safe passages for Palestinians in Gaza, acknowledging the complexity of the situation due to Hamas’s use of civilians as shields in the conflict.