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Australian Defence Force planes will help Australians who want to leave Israel after commercial flights were cancelled due to the escalating conflict in the region.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong confirmed the government was planning “multiple flights” from Tel Aviv.

“We are co-ordinating options with partners who are helping their citizens with departures,” she confirmed on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday.

“We are also arranging flights to assist travellers with their onward journey from Dubai to Australia.

“A further update will be provided directly to registered Australians in coming hours.”

Two scheduled flights were scrapped on Saturday citing a “highly challenging and rapidly changing” environment.

More than 800 Australians were aboard the first government assisted flight that landed in London late on Friday local time.

About 10,000 Australians, many who are dual citizens and not seeking to leave, are currently in Israel.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said the number of Australians who wanted to leave Israel was in the “high hundreds”.

He told the ABC military planes would have greater flexibility than commercial options but circumstances, such as whether Israel’s airspace remained open, could complicate matters.

“We are positioned, we have the intent to put in place flights very soon, almost immediately,” he said.

“There is some greater flexibility that military flights offer in this circumstance.”

Israeli forces on Saturday said it was preparing for “significant ground operations” in Gaza in response to the deadly October 7 attack by Hamas.

Mr Marles said Israel had a right to defend itself but must “do that in a way where it acts in accordance with the rules of war”, later clarifying that he believed they were.

Liberal MP Julian Leeser said Australia needed to reconsider its diplomatic ties with Iran.

“Anybody who doesn’t think Iran has been supporting and financing Hamas over the years just hasn’t been paying attention,” he told the ABC.

“Iran is the great disrupter in the Middle East, it’s disrupting Lebanon, it’s disrupting Syria. It is a malevolent force.

“I think our support for Iran, our maintaining diplomatic relations, in a sense gives Iran a level of support and global acceptance that I think we should question.”

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By Rahul

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