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Australia Defends Israel’s Right to Retaliate After Hamas Attacks

Participants of a pro-Palestinian rally react outside the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Oct. 9, 2023
Participants of a pro-Palestinian rally react outside the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Oct. 9, 2023

Australia is urging restraint and is expressing support for Israel and its right to defend itself after the attack by Hamas militants.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators Monday marched through Sydney, where they gathered at the steps of the Opera House.

Its famous sails have been lit up in the blue and white of the Israeli flag as a show of solidarity with Jewish communities in Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had called for the pro-Palestinian march in Sydney to be abandoned.

The conservative opposition leader Peter Dutton condemned the protest as "despicable" and "unimaginable in modern Australia".

One pro-Palestinian activist told local media that it was “heartbreaking seeing civilians being killed” in the Gaza strip by Israeli airstrikes.

The Canberra government has expressed its support for Israel following the violence in the Middle East.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Tuesday that attacks by Hamas militants on Israel were "abhorrent."

"Israel has a right to defend itself and this was an abhorrent attack," Wong said. "And the taking of hostages, the attacks on civilians, the sort of images, awful images, that we are seeing reminds us of the security situation that Israel confronts."

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Australia has updated its travel advice since the violence started and is urging its citizens to "reconsider your need to travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories overall due to the volatile security situation, including the threat of terrorism, armed conflict and civil unrest."

Australia has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1949. In Canberra, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has said "Australia has a warm and close relationship with Israel."

Politically, Canberra is committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state co‑exist within internationally recognized borders.

Elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region, the Malaysian government said that the country stands in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. In Indonesia, a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause, officials said they were deeply concerned about the escalation of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and called for the violence to end.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the "indiscriminate attacks on Israel."