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Australia’s spy boss has warned of increased potential for “opportunistic violence with little or no warning” in Australia following Hamas’ bloody incursion in Israel.

In a statement released on Thursday, Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) head Mike Burgess cautioned the agency was on high alert for politically or religiously motivated violence.

“ASIO is carefully monitoring the situation for any indications of planned violence. Were we to see any, we would respond accordingly, along with our law enforcement partners,” director-general Burgess said.

While the national terrorism threat level remains “possible”, Burgess warned against extremists escalating protests to stoke community disharmony.

“I remain concerned about the potential for opportunistic violence with little or no warning. However, it is important to distinguish opportunistic violence from planned violence or acts of terrorism,” he said.

“ASIO remains well-placed to detect threats to security including potential acts of politically motivated violence or the promotion of communal violence.”

Director-general Burgess said it was critical all parties consider the implications for social cohesion when making public statements.

“As I have said previously, words matter. ASIO has seen direct connections between inflamed language and inflamed community tensions.

“As always, ASIO is not interested in those who are engaged in lawful protest, but rather the small subset of protesters who may wish to escalate protest to violence.

“This includes religiously motivated and ideologically motivated extremists, or anyone who believes that violence is a means to further their own interests.”

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By Rahul

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