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Australians living in Israel and Palestine are being urged to move quickly to flee the war zone as more “no-show flights” are reported and exit options dwindle.

Thousands of civilians have been killed since Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an attack on Israeli citizens on October 7, and the subsequent retaliatory air strike launched by Israel.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong confirmed on Monday morning two Australian air force flights and one charter flight – in total carrying more than 250 Australians as well as citizens from other countries – departed Israel overnight.

“That means there‘s about 1200 Australians and families who have departed since this conflict began,” she told Today.

However, as conditions in the war zone deteriorate, airlines are dropping out of crucial repatriation flights.

“There were quite a lot of no-shows, flights who were recorded as saying they wanted to leave but did not show up,” Ms Wong said.

“I have said to people if you wish to leave, leave now and don‘t wait for a flight.”

She said – subject to security conditions – the Australian government has prepared one more flight due to depart Israel on Monday.

More than one million Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes since Israel began bombing the northern Gaza Strip last week.

“It is a much more complex and a very risky and difficult, and frightening situation for those Australians and their families,” Ms Wong said of people living on the Gaza Strip.

“We are obviously engaging with the United States and Egypt to try and seek assistance for foreign nationals including Australians who want to leave but so far that has proved extremely difficult given the security situation on the ground.”

Meanwhile in Australia, thousands attended rallies hosted right across the country to stand in solidarity with either Palestine or Israel.

There was fear the rallies could attract a small contingent of protesters who have used the events to platform hate speech including a group caught on video chanting anti-Semitic slogans outside the Opera House last weekend.

However, police said they had no need to use “extraordinary powers” despite about 6000 people gathering in Sydney on Sunday for peaceful pro-Palestine rallies.

“This is a very difficult situation, it’s a situation where the Jewish community in Australia feel very strongly, as do the Palestinian community,” Ms Wong said.

“And one of the things I have at pains to urge is for us to ensure that our views on this are dealt with respectfully. There is no place for antisemitism or Islamophobia.

“People come to this nation because we’re a tolerant nation because we’re a tolerant nation, we respect one another, we deal with differences of views in respectful way.”

Read related topics:Penny Wong

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