The Israeli Government says it will continue its siege, blocking the passage of food, water and power into Gaza, until hostages captured by Hamas are returned.
Hamas, which Australia recognises as a terrorist organisation, kidnapped at least 150 hostages, including many civilians, during its attack on Israel last weekend.
Thousands of people have since died in Israel and Gaza.
Hamas have killed over 1,300 people in Israel, including many civilians.
Most of the 150 hostages are also believed to be civilians, including children and elderly people. They include residents of villages near Gaza and attendees at a music festival. Some of the hostages are understood to be foreign nationals.
Hamas officials have made some threats to execute them, but so far no public indication has been given of any executions.
Siege of Gaza
In response, Israel’s Government has announced a “siege” on Gaza, which means it is blocking the entry of food, water and power.
Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, is home to about two million people. About 80% of its population relies on humanitarian aid. In its most recent update, Gaza’s health ministry said 1,537 people have been killed by Israeli attacks.
Israel is able to conduct a siege because of the “blockade” it maintains around Gaza. It controls entry and exit, and residents are typically unable to leave. The Israeli Government says it does so to prevent the supply of weapons to Hamas.
The role of Egypt
While most of Gaza’s land border is shared with Israel, a small section is shared with Egypt.
The Egyptian Government typically keeps this section of border shut.
In recent days, Egypt has given some indication it wants to allow humanitarian access to Gaza, but it is currently unable to do so due to Israeli bombing at the border.
UN Chief Antònio Guterres has called Hamas’ actions “acts of terror” and repeatedly demanded the immediate release of hostages.
He has also called on the Israeli Government to end its siege and allow the passage of humanitarian relief.
Guterres said the situation in Gaza “was already dire… but will now deteriorate exponentially“.
In the last few hours, the Israeli military issued a statement ordering civilians in Gaza to “move south” ahead of an expected ground operation.
Hamas officials instructed civilians to ignore the order, accusing Israel of “psychological warfare”.
The United Nations has called the order “impossible”, citing the one million residents in northern Gaza.
Australians in Israel and Gaza
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is chartering two flights from Tel Aviv to London on Friday and Sunday for Australians needing to come home from Israel or Gaza. You do not need to pay to get on the flights.
To register yourself for those flights, call +61 2 6261 3305, 24/7.
If you’re in Australia and calling on someone’s behalf, call 1300 555 135, 24/7.
You can also register at crisis.dfat.gov.au/crisisportal/s/.
If you or someone you know is unable to get to the airport in Tel Aviv, you can also call the above numbers.