Dramatic scenes continue to emerge from Israel and the Gaza strip after Hamas’ unprecedented attacks yesterday left up to 600 Israelis dead, most of them civilians.
Israel declared war a short time later and has hit the Gaza strip with a barrage of missiles, that have levelled entire apartment buildings and killed more than 400.
On Sunrise this morning, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the attacks as an “absolute shock”.
Condemning the actions of Hamas, he said: “The capturing of the people and taking them back to Gaza represents an extraordinary action by Hamas. And Israel, of course, has a right to defend itself, and it will.”
The Israeli embassy in Turkey reported more than 300 Israelis had been killed, however unconfirmed reports from Israeli media outlets claim nearly 600 are dead. A senior Hamas official told the Associated Press the militant group is holding at least 100 Israelis hostage.
Over 400 Palestinians have been killed according to an Israeli Defence Force spokesman.
Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti told ABC Radio this morning: “The vast majority of the victims in this conflict [over time] are on the Palestinian side.”
Shani Louk, a 30-year-old German citizen, has been identified as believed killed when Hamas attacked a music festival near the Gaza border. Distressing footage on X (formerly Twitter) showed the woman being paraded, lifeless in the back of a pickup truck operated by Hamas fighters.
The BBC reported the UK’s Israeli Embassy had confirmed British citizen, Jake Marlowe, as missing.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a national address that the Palestinian fighters will see resistance at a “magnitude that the enemy has not known” and will “pay an unprecedented price”.
Tensions have also erupted outside the immediate conflict zone.
At 9pm last night, two Israeli tourists visiting Egypt were gunned down by an Egyptian policeman according to reports from Egypt’s Interior Ministry. The suspect has reportedly been detained.
Footage has also circulated showing members of the Iranian parliament chanting ‘Death to Israel! Death to America’, prompting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to warn other countries in the region to stay out of the escalating situation.
IRAN: Parliament members chant "Death to Israel. Death to America".
They celebrate death and terror. The end of this regime is near. pic.twitter.com/v0Y1ZfQSYk
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) October 7, 2023
The Lebanese armed militant group, Hezbollah exchanged fire with Israel on the Israeli-Lebanese border twice yesterday. The Iranian-backed group called the unfolding attacks a “decisive response to Israel’s continued occupation and a message to those seeking normalisation with Israel”, Reuters reported.
The United Nations said it was working to de-escalate the situation.
Like the key Western powers Australia has thrown its full support behind Israel. Other nations, such as Turkey and China have called for both sides to show restraint.
“I’ve spoken with the ambassador, the Israeli ambassador to Australia who’s there in Israel, and we will continue to do what we can to monitor the situation,” Anthony Albanese said this morning.
Australia stands with our friend Israel in this time.
We condemn the indiscriminate and abhorrent attacks by Hamas on Israel, its cities and civilians.
We recognise Israel’s right to defend itself.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 7, 2023
In a statement Foreign Minister Penny Wong said: “Australia unequivocally condemns the attack on Israel by Hamas.. I again reiterate our call for all hostages to be released.”
Amidst the violence, various airlines have suspended flights to Tel Aviv, with the American airline carrier, United, saying: “The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority”.
The opposition is calling for Australia to make a more concrete statement of support, with Coalition leader Peter Dutton calling for Australia to illuminate Sydney’s iconic Opera House to represent “strong support of our friends and family in Israel”, he said in a tweet.
Public sentiment in Australia has been mixed with different groups showing support for different sides.
Footage from late last night showed a group of people in a ute in Greenacre in Sydney’s south-west backing Palestine, firing green and red fireworks and waving Palestinian flags out the window.
As escalations continue to mount, there have been calls for peace around the world.
Pope Francis said in a tweet yesterday: “Terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions. War is a defeat! Let us #PrayTogether that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine.”
Main image Google map and video screengrabs.