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Airport rocket warning as Aussies urged to flee Gaza

July 14, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Any Australians in the Gaza Strip, located on the Mediterranean between Israel and the sea, should get out now as there may be no further chance, the Australian Government has warned.

Current battles between Israel and Hamas fighters in Gaza have killed over 150 people. Hamas warned airlines at the start of the weekend that it planned to target Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with its rockets. The militant group said it was issuing the warning so airlines could avoid injury to their passengers. Ben Gurion, 15 kilometres from Tel Aviv,  is Israel’s main international airport.

The Federal Government has urged Australians in Gaza to get out now, making it clear there may not be another chance.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv would offer Australians a “one-off assisted departure” from the Gaza Strip. There were no plans for any further assisted departures, she reiterated.

The Gaza Strip, or just Gaza, borders Egypt to the south and Israel to the east.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued the following statement:

“Australians in the Gaza Strip should depart immediately.  The Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv is arranging a one-off assisted departure of Australians who wish to depart from the Gaza Strip.

“There are no plans for any further assisted departures from Gaza.

“The Australian Embassy will arrange for transport to Amman.  Once in Amman, Australians will be responsible for their own costs and arrangements, including for onward travel. Australians seeking assistance to depart the Gaza Strip should immediately contact the 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 or the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv on (972 3) 693 5000 to register their details).”

DFAT “strongly advised” Australians to reconsider their need to travel to areas within 40 kilometres of the border with the Gaza Strip.

“The overall level of advice remains at exercise a high degree of caution in Israel due to the threat of terrorist attack and the threat of rocket fire. We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to the West Bank and not to travel to the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas in southern Israel.”

A statement from Hamas said that “in the light of Israel’s… attacks on the residents of Gaza Strip… The armed wing of Hamas movement has decided to respond to the Israeli aggression and we warn you against carrying out flights to Ben Gurion airport, which will be one of our targets today [Friday] because it also hosts a military air base”.

No rockets are reported to have fallen near the airport, which is heavily defended. A Delta B747 flight to New York JFK returned to Ben Gurion Airport yesterday after a mechanical issue, but there is no indication the plane’s problem was related to the conflict.

Israeli warplanes and drones pounded Gaza at the weekend as Israel seeks to put an end to Hamas rockets being fired towards Israel. Israeli’s ‘Iron Dome’ anti-missile defence system has shot down many of the rockets. As of Monday morning, the rockets have killed no-one in Israel.

Israeli fire reportedly killed over 150 Palestinians in Gaza over the weekend. The latest round of fighting began after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, an action Israel blames on Hamas.

Written by Peter Needham

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