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Australia's response to the recent violence in Gaza and Southern Israel $5 million in humanitarian assistance.



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Prime Minister of Australia

Media Release

Australia's response to the recent violence in Gaza and Southern Israel $5 million in humanitarian assistance

01 January 2009

The Australian Government is gravely concerned by the escalating violence which has followed the breakdown of the cease-fire arrangement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Australia is deeply saddened by the resultant, tragic loss of life in recent days, and strongly condemns the firing of rockets and mortars into southern Israel by Hamas and other militant groups.

While recognising Israel’s right to defend itself from such indiscriminate attacks, the Australian Government supports the United Nations Security Council’s call for an immediate halt to all violence.

The Australian Government also urges Israel, Hamas and other militant groups to make every effort to avoid causing further suffering to innocent civilians.

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip remains a significant concern, and the Government believes it is essential that Israel meets its humanitarian obligations to ensure the people of the Gaza Strip have access to basic necessities and humanitarian assistance.

For this reason, Australia therefore welcomes the movement of some humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip over the past several days.

As part of its commitment to help support people caught up in the conflict, the Australian Government will make an immediate commitment of $5 million in additional assistance to the people of the Gaza Strip and stands ready to consider further assistance in the future.

This assistance is in addition to the doubling of Australian aid to the Palestinian people to $45 million in 2008, including $10 million of assistance which Mr Smith announced during his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories in October.

This assistance will go towards helping to ensure that the people of the Gaza Strip have adequate access to much needed basic goods, such as food and medical supplies, and will be delivered through multilateral agencies, such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, other UN agencies and international non-governmental organisations.

The Australian Government wishes to emphasise that the recent events in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel also highlight the importance of all Australians remaining aware of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s travel advice.

The current travel advice for Israel and the Palestinian Territories strongly advises Australians to not travel to the Gaza Strip or the West Bank or within 30km of the perimeter of the Gaza Strip because of the extremely dangerous security situation.

Australians who are in the Gaza Strip should remain in a secure location indoors and monitor the media for information. We also urge them to contact the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv immediately (+972 3 693 5000).

Australians in Israel and the Palestinian Territories should pay close attention to their personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

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