October 30, 2023

Israel-Hamas conflict LIVE updates: Anti-Israel demonstrators at Russian airport; aid arrives in Gaza; death tolls continues to climb

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Six former Australian prime ministers release statement on Israel-Hamas

By Olivia Ireland

Six former Australian prime ministers have released a letter describing the Israel-Hamas conflict as a mission to promote hatred by the terrorist organisation and express support for a two-state solution for lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Former prime ministers John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison released a joint statement on Monday saying there was no place for racial or religious hatred.

Six of Australia’s seven former prime ministers have released a statement condemning the “hatred” spread by Hamas.

“We believe we speak for the vast majority of Australians, of all faiths and of none, when we say we stand in solidarity with Jewish Australians at this time,” they said.

“Likewise, we stand, too, with the Australian Palestinian community whose families are dying and suffering in this terrible conflict. They, too, deserve our love and support.

“Our nation’s success depends on us not allowing conflict overseas to turn Australians against each other.”

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Palestinian Advocacy Network says ex-PMs’ letter is biased

The Australian Palestinian Advocacy Network has criticised a joint statement on the Israel-Hamas conflict made by six former prime ministers on Monday, saying the statement alienates Palestinian Australians and exhibits pro-Israel bias.

The network said the statement minimised Israel’s “gross violations of international law for the past 75 years” and failed to recognise Israel’s responsibility in killing 8000 people in Gaza.

Australia Palestine Advocacy Network president Nasser Mashni.Credit: Justin McManus

“The statement’s reference to ‘Australian values of love and respect’ rings hollow, given that the former Prime Ministers failed to acknowledge the tens of thousands of Australians expressing their horror about Israel’s behaviour, and ignored the anguish that many thousands of Palestinian Australians are currently feeling,” the network’s president Nasser Mashini said.

Every living former prime minister bar Paul Keating signed the statement, which condemned Hamas, extended solidarity to Jewish and Palestinian Australians, called for humanitarian access to Palestinians and urged the nation to support those who are grieving and distressed.

Read the full statement:


As the sun rises in Gaza, Palestinians report fierce artillery strikes

It’s about 8am Monday in Gaza, and Palestinians in the northern strip have reported fierce air and artillery strikes early in the morning as Israeli troops backed by tanks pressed into the enclave with a ground assault that prompted more international calls for civilians to be protected.

Israel’s military said it had struck over 600 militant targets over the past few days as it continued to expand ground operations in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian civilians are in dire need of fuel, food and clean water as the conflict enters its fourth week.

Smoke rises following Israeli bombardment on Gaza City over the weekend.Credit: AP

“IDF troops killed dozens of terrorists who barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels, and attempted to attack the troops,” the military said in a statement.

Israeli air strikes hit areas near Gaza’s Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals, and Palestinian militants clashed with Israeli forces in a border area east of the city of Khan Younis in the south, Palestinian media said.

There was no comment from Hamas. Reuters was not able to independently confirm the reports.

Israel’s self-declared “second phase” of a three-week war against Iranian-backed Hamas militants has been largely kept from public view, with forces moving under darkness and a telecommunications blackout cutting off Palestinians.

People search through buildings that were destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip.Credit: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

The phone and internet cuts appeared to ease on Sunday, but telecoms provider Paltel said Israeli air strikes had again knocked out internet and phone service in parts of the enclave’s northern sections, where Hamas has command centres.

The outages have severely hampered rescue operations for casualties of Israeli barrages.

The reported strikes near hospitals came after the Palestinian Red Crescent said on Sunday it had received warnings from Israeli authorities to immediately evacuate al-Quds hospital, where some 14,000 people have sought shelter.

Palestinian officials said about 50,000 people had also taken shelter in Shifa Hospital, adding that they were concerned about Israeli threats to the facility.



Sixty arrested in Russia following anti-Israel airport protest

Sixty people were detained after hundreds of anti-Israel protesters stormed an airport in Russia’s predominantly Muslim Dagestan region on Sunday, the RIA news agency (a Russian state-owned agency) reported on Monday.

RIA said the identity of 150 of what it called the most active protesters had been identified. It said nine police officers had received injuries in the incident, two of whom were being treated in hospital.

The protesters stormed the airport on Sunday, where a plane from Israel had just arrived, forcing security forces to close the airport and remove the demonstrators.



What was it like inside Gaza’s 34-hour communications blackout?

Phone and internet connectivity was partially restored to Gaza on Sunday morning (local time) after a 34-hour communications blackout shrouded the besieged strip and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis unfolding there.

“I felt that I had become blind and deaf, unable to see or hear,” Fathi Sabbah, a journalist based in Gaza, wrote on his Facebook profile Sunday, reported The New York Times.

Ahmed Yousef, a 45-year-old civil servant, said the communications blackout was worse than losing access to electricity and water because he couldn’t contact friends, family or the people he buys food from for his loved ones.

Palestinians line up at a bakery in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.Credit: Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times

Two US officials said the United States believed Israel was responsible for the communications loss.

Israeli officials have so far declined to comment. The two US officials said they had urged their Israeli counterparts to do what they could to restore communications.

Go inside the 34-hour blackout that cut Gaza off from the world here.


US threatens to stop supplying rifles to Israel

The US has threatened to stop supplying rifles to Israel after their national security minister was seen handing them out to civilians.

The diplomatic spat was prompted by images on social media of Itamar Ben-Gvir giving rifles to community security squads across the country, according to Israel’s daily Haaretz.

The images appeared to show Ben-Gvir distributing the arms at political events in Bnei Brak and El’ad, two towns near Tel Aviv.

Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, attends an event to deliver weapons to volunteer security group members in Ashkelon, Israel, last week.Credit: AP

After several days of diplomatic exchanges, Israel committed to distributing the weapons only through its police or army, although politicians can be present when they are handed out.

A state department spokesperson said: “President [Joe] Biden directed his team to ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself, consistent with international law, and we are actively providing additional security assistance to the Israeli Defence Forces.

“Our assistance will flow quickly to meet Israel’s urgent needs.”

A spokesman for Ben-Gvir did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Since the start of the war with Hamas, Israel has set up hundreds of volunteer security squads and has been arming them in view of possible unrest in Palestinian communities.

Ben-Gvir has predicted that this war could see a repeat of the tensions that followed the last Gaza war of 2021 and has ordered an easing of regulations for issuing gun licences to private citizens.

The Telegraph


Clashes on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Syria

The Israeli military struck targets in Lebanon and Syria on Sunday (local time) after projectiles were fired into Israel.

Clashes have been taking place across Israel’s tense border with Lebanon since the onset of the Hamas-Israel war, mostly contained to several border towns.

Homes and buildings in Lebanon seen from the Israeli town of Margaliot.Credit: Kate Geraghty

Israel’s military provided video of multiple strikes inside Lebanon, showing explosions erupting among trees and missiles hitting a building on a hillside. The military said it shot down a drone and killed a militant who tried to approach the border fence.


On Sunday evening, Hamas said its forces in Lebanon had fired 16 missiles at the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, also announced it had fired missiles at several sites across the border Sunday afternoon, including one that it said had hit an Israeli infantry unit near the town of Birket Risha and caused “confirmed injuries.”

Rockets were fired from Syria as well on Sunday, falling into open Israeli territory, the military said, which fired back at the site where the rockets were launched. It did not report any injuries.



Number of children killed in Gaza exceeds other conflict zones combined

The number of children killed in Gaza in the past three weeks has surpassed the annual number killed in conflict zones worldwide since 2019, according to Save the Children.

More than 3250 children have been killed, including at least 3195 in Gaza, 33 in the West Bank and 29 in Israel, the organisation said.

That means children account for more than 40 per cent of the 7700 people killed in Gaza, Save the Children said.

Israeli tanks take position along the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel.Credit: AP

A further 1000 are reported missing in Gaza, presumed buried under the rubble, it said.

Medical authorities in the Gaza Strip have put the death toll at more than 8000, including 3324 minors.

“The numbers are harrowing and with violence not only continuing but expanding in Gaza right now, many more children remain at grave risk,” the organisation’s occupied Palestinian territories director Jason Lee said.

“One child’s death is one too many, but these are grave violations of epic proportions – a ceasefire is the only way to ensure their safety.”

AAP, Reuters


Twenty injured after hundreds storm Russian airport

More details are emerging from Russia’s Makhachkala airport, which was stormed by hundreds of anti-Israel protesters on Sunday after the arrival of a plane from Tel Aviv.

Twenty people were injured before forces contained the protest, local authorities said. The passengers on the plane were safe, security forces told Reuters.

The unrest in the predominantly Muslim Dagestan region followed several other anti-Israel incidents in North Caucasus sparked by Israel’s war against Hamas militants in Gaza. The Dagestani government said early on Monday that it was strengthening security measures across the republic, which is home to about 3 million people.

Videos from Makhachkala airport obtained by Reuters showed the protesters, mostly young men, waving Palestinian flags, breaking down glass doors and running through the airport shouting “Allahu Akbar” or “God is greatest”.

Another group was seen trying to topple over a patrol truck.

The Russian Aviation Authority closed the airport for security checks. There were no immediate reports of arrests, but Russia’s federal investigations agency ordered a criminal probe into the incident.

The crowd at the airport in Makhachkala, the capital of the predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan, in Russia.

Sergei Melikov, the head of Dagestan, said the incident was a gross violation of the law, even as Dagestanis “empathise with the suffering of victims of the actions of unrighteous people and politicians, and pray for peace in Palestine”.

“There is no courage in waiting as a mob for unarmed people who have not done anything forbidden,” Melikov said on the Telegram messaging app.

Israel urged Russian authorities to protect Israelis and Jews in their jurisdictions following a recent spate of violence against Israeli and Jewish targets.



Pro-Palestine supporters protest outside Melbourne DFAT office

By Broede Carmody

About 20 pro-Palestine protesters have gathered in the area adjacent to the Melbourne office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, chanting “Free, free Palestine!”.

Several police could be seen observing the protesters, but office workers – and shoppers – mingled through the nearby food court unimpeded. Some stopped to watch the protest and cheer in support.

The action comes after Australia abstained from a United Nations resolution calling for a Gaza truce which ultimately passed with 120 votes in favour, 14 against and 45 abstentions.

Over the weekend, Australia’s ambassador to the UN stated that the non-binding General Assembly resolution – proposed by Jordan – was “incomplete” because it did not recognise Hamas’ responsibility for the October 7 attack against Israel.


Leading artists criticise government for ‘silence’ over Gaza bombing

By Linda Morris

A leading group of artists, writers, and musicians has criticised the government for its “silence” over Israel’s bombing of civilian populations in Gaza.

The 38 creatives have signed an open letter demanding the Albanese government support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. They said the government could not stand by and watch “blatant violations of international humanitarian and criminal law”.

Australia abstained from voting on a call for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza at the UN General Assembly last week.

Writer Maxine Beneba Clarke is one of the signatories to a letter criticising the government for its stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.Credit: Luis Ascui

“We demand our government support an immediate ceasefire, the opening of Gaza’s borders, the release of all hostages, and the immediate provision of humanitarian aid to the suffering Palestinian people as necessary first steps to a lasting peace,” they said.

“Abstention at this urgent time of crisis and escalating deaths is not a politically neutral position.”

Pledging solidarity with the people of Gaza are writers Maxine Beneba Clarke and Michele Lee, musician Sarah Blasko, Indigenous artist Vernon Ah Kee, performance artist Latai Taumoepeau and film director Sophie Hyde.

All are or have been recipients of the Sydney Myer Creative Fellowship, awarded to early and mid-career applicants deemed to be of “outstanding talent and exceptional courage”.

“As storytellers and culture makers, we will not be silent or silenced on the crimes against humanity that the Palestinian people are facing,” the group wrote. “We encourage others in the creative industries to also speak out, without fear of retribution.”

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