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As it happened: Australian military bolsters Middle East deployment; Israeli PM says ground invasion imminent; Marles says 71 Australians in Gaza


Thanks for joining's coverage of the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip for Wednesday, October 25, 2023. Here's what made news: The Australian Defence Force is deploying more planes and troops to the Middle East, the government said. The United Nations chief warned of the situation in Gaza is becoming more dire by the hour. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told troops a ground invasion is imminent.

- Australia sending RAAF aircraft, Defence personnel to Middle East

- United Nations chief warns that the risk of the Gaza war spreading is growing

- Released Hamas hostage describes kidnapping from kibbutz and captivity

live feed

That's all for today

That's where we're going to wrap up our live rolling coverage of the conflict in Gaza for today.

Here's what made headlines throughout the day.

The Australian Defence Force is deploying more planes and troops to the Middle East. It comes as the government helped eight more Australians leave the West Bank.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the situation in Gaza is becoming more dire by the hour, called for an immediate ceasefire, and said "clear violations of international humanitarian law" have been witnessed in Gaza.

That sparked a furious reaction from Israeli diplomats, who called on Guterres to apologise and resign.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told troops a ground invasion is imminent, even as US military advisers urge Israel to use a combination of precision airstrikes and targeted special operations raids to avoid a repeat of the type of brutal, urban combat the US engaged in during the Iraq War.

With our blog closing, you can stay up to date with all the latest headlines at and

Eight more Australians leave West Bank

The federal government has helped eight more Australians leave the West Bank, Foreign Minister Penny Wong has announced.

"The Australian government has assisted a further eight Australians depart the West Bank for Jordan," she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"We continue to assist Australians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as a small number of New Zealand citizens who want to leave.

"More than 1900 previously registered Australians have now left Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

"The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire.

"DFAT continues to support Australians, permanent residents and immediate family members there.

"Australia has called for humanitarian pauses to allow for the delivery of urgent aid and the safe passage of civilians."

While Israel's military focus has largely been on the Gaza Strip since Hamas' attack on October 7, it has also been conducting deadly raids and arresting hundreds of people in the West Bank, which is the larger of the Palestinian territories.

Israel furious at UN chief for criticising attacks on Gaza

Israeli diplomats have taken umbrage at United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after he called for an immediate ceasefire and said "clear violations of international humanitarian law" have been witnessed in Gaza.

"It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum," Guterres said.

"The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished."

He also called Hamas' October 7 assault on Israel "appalling" but said it "cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Excellencies, even war has rules."

Those comments, though, made Guterres unfit for office, according to Israeli officials.

"The UN secretary-general is disconnected from reality and must resign," UN ambassador Gilad Erdan said.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who was at the United Nations, said he would not meet with Guterres and that "there is no place for a balanced approach".

- with CNN

Russia maneuvers carefully over the Israel-Hamas war

Russia has issued carefully calibrated criticism of both sides in the war between Israel and Hamas.

But the conflict also is giving Moscow bold new opportunities - to advance its role as a global power broker and challenge Western efforts to isolate it over Ukraine.

While Moscow lacks leverage to mediate a settlement in the Middle East, it could try to play on some perceived credibility problems with the West's response to the crisis.

It also expects the Israel-Hamas war to distract attention from the fighting in Ukraine and erode support for Kyiv.

There are risks for Moscow, however. It could damage its relationship with Israel, which until now has kept it from sending weapons to Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas militants on towns in southern Israel.

At the same time, he warned Israel against blockading the Gaza Strip, likening it to Nazi Germany's siege of Leningrad during World War II.

He has cast the war as a failure of US diplomacy, charging that Washington has opted for economic "handouts" to the Palestinians and abandoned efforts to help create a Palestinian state.

A Sydney council to fly Palestinian flag 'until ceasefire declared'

A south-west Sydney council has unanimously voted to fly the Palestinian flag until a ceasefire is declared in Gaza.

Councillor Khodr Saleh tabled a motion at the Canterbury-Bankstown Council meeting last night calling for the Palestinian flag to be raised at both Paul Keating Park in Bankstown and the Campsie Administration building.

In the motion, Saleh asked for the flag to be flown "in support of the Palestinian people" until a ceasefire is declared "in the current humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza".

The decision comes after Randwick Council backflipped on its decision to fly the Palestinian flag "given the current conflict" with Israel and Hamas.

Wong joins global calls for Gaza ceasefire

Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong has joined with US leaders and other nations in calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to allow for the safe evacuation of civilians and aid to enter the besieged territory.

The death toll in Gaza has now topped 5,700 - many of them women and children - as Israel ramps up its relentless airstrikes since Hamas' attack on October 7.

The medical system is now crumbling as fuel and medical supplies run out and hospitals are struck.

In a statement posted on social media, Wong distinguished between Hamas - which Australia classifies as a terrorist group - and the civilians of Gaza.

"We call for humanitarian pauses on hostilities so food, water, medicine and other essential assistance can reach people in desperate need, and so civilians can get to safety, " she said.

"The way Israel exercises its right to defend itself matters. It matters to civilians throughout the region, and it matters to Israel's ongoing security."

US and Gulf nations target up to $1 billion in 'secret' Hamas investments

The United States along with some Middle Eastern nations are stepping up efforts to target a "secret" Hamas investment portfolio government officials believe to be worth up to $1 billion.

To target the Hamas investment portfolio, a US official said the Treasury Department is working with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Last week, the US Treasury leveled sanctions on individuals that officials say are managing assets in the "secret" Hamas investment portfolio likely valued at between $400 million and $1 billion, according to a US official.

The official added that the portfolio is generating significant amounts of revenue for Hamas.

The US Treasury has said the global portfolio of investments includes companies operating "under the guise of legitimate businesses" in Sudan, Algeria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other nations.

"We cannot tolerate a world in which Hamas and other terrorist organisations' fundraisers live and operate with impunity, abusing the financial system, to sustain their terror." Brian Nelson, Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said during prepared remarks at the emergency TFTC meeting.

Nelson urged the Gulf nations to share more information on the parts of the Hamas financial ecosystem "vulnerable to disruption" and called on member countries to take action.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2023


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