Israel repatriation: Australians land in Dubai

Following a day of uncertainty in the midst of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, 255 Australian people have arrived in Dubai en route to Australia after boarding repatriation charter planes out of Israel. The conflict between Israel and Hamas is still ongoing.

Penny Wong, the minister of foreign affairs, stated that the government has confirmed flights to Australia departing from Dubai, and the minister also stated that the government intended to schedule two additional flights departing from Tel Aviv to Dubai on Monday.

Three charter flights, two operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and one privately leased flight took out from Tel Aviv with 255 passengers. The first airplane chartered by the Israeli government left Tel Aviv at 1.30 p.m. local time on Sunday evening (9.30 p.m. AEDT), and it was heading to Dubai.

Wong stated that two additional flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai were “subject to factors including the security environment.” The first of these flights is planned to depart from the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv at ten in the morning local time on Monday.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the Australian government is estimated to have aided approximately 1,200 Australian residents in their departure from Israel, according to Wong. Some Palestinian Australians in Gaza claim that they are unable to board evacuation buses headed for Jordan, despite attempts being made to help them leave Gaza.

Wong urged those who needed to flee the area to utilize all means at their disposal if they could.

She stated this possibility to the Senate on Monday. “[This] may be our last opportunity to conduct an assisted departure flight for the foreseeable future,” she said.

“We can’t know how the security situation will unfold,” Wong added. “We have no way of knowing.”

Because of mounting concerns about the escalation of violence in the region, two planes that were scheduled to rescue Australians who had become stranded in Israel were canceled on Saturday.

According to Wong, there were some passengers who decided not to take the planes the previous day and canceled their reservations at the very last minute.

She stated in a post on X (which was formerly known as Twitter) that the government was preparing two flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai on Monday, subject to a number of considerations “including security conditions.”

Wong stated that the situation was “highly challenging and rapidly changing,” and as a result, individuals should contemplate the possibility that these flights “might be our last flights for the foreseeable future.”

“We want to make it clear to any Australians who are considering emigrating that we support your decision to pick the earliest available departure date. She pleaded with them not to hold out hope for a better alternative.

The minister of home affairs, Clare O’Neil, stated that the vast majority of the 255 passengers on board the repatriation flights were Australian citizens, in addition to family members who were not citizens of Australia.

“We still have a number of people who are in Israel who would like to leave, and we are working as a first priority as a government on making sure that we can assist people to leave Israel wherever it is possible,” O’Neil said. “We are working to make sure that we can assist people to leave Israel wherever it is possible.”

“What I would say is that this is a really hard scenario, which is getting worse by the day. I would say that this is a very challenging position. It is imperative that you get out of there as soon as you can if you ever get the chance. Don’t waste time waiting for another opportunity. If you have the opportunity to escape, you should depart as soon as you can.”

According to Wong, similar attempts have been made to get Australian people out of Gaza in the midst of a “very distressing situation,” but these efforts have not been successful thus far.

“We continue to do a lot of engagement with the United States, with Israel, [and] with Egypt to try and assure passage for Australians out of Gaza,” she said. “We are hopeful that we will be successful.”

It is very clear that the state of security on the ground there is extremely precarious, and despite our best efforts, we have not been successful in accomplishing that goal as of yet. We are going to keep trying as hard as we possibly can to set up that passage.

However, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) stated that there are 19 people in Gaza who are registered to leave with the department. Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (Dfat) did not provide a number of Australians who are currently in the West Bank.

Because there is no airport in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority Authority (Dfat) arranged for buses to transfer Australian citizens from Ramallah to Jordan. This was done out of worry over the ability of these dual nationals to board planes departing from the Ben Gurion airport in Israel.

However, a Palestinian Australian family living in the West Bank shared with the media that they are having trouble getting to Ramallah in time to catch the buses organized by the administration.

According to the family, there was one instance in which Australians who had registered for assistance to evacuate were only given around 12 hours of notice before one of these buses was scheduled to depart.

The family, who were registered for the buses, claims that Dfat has not provided them with official papers to guarantee their passage through the various checkpoints on their way to Ramallah. This is in addition to the logistical challenges associated with traveling between Israeli-controlled and Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank at short notice.

“We understand that it is difficult to move around at the moment,” Dfat said to Australians living in the West Bank in an email.

Dfat stated that despite the fact that another bus was supposed to leave Ramallah for Jordan on Tuesday morning, “the security situation continues to evolve, and buses may be cancelled or changed with little notice.”

“The situation is quite difficult, and it is also changing very quickly. A representative for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dfat) stated that the Australian government is working to “ensure that Australians who want to leave can do so as soon as possible.”

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