Aussies on the trip of a lifetime in Israel who are now stuck in the war-torn region are demanding to know why the Australian Government is doing nothing to help them escape, while other nations are sending rescue flights for their citizens.
Paul and Audrey West, from Newcastle, had been guiding a group of 33 holidaymakers through Israel for about two weeks when terrorist group Hamas started firing rockets from the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning.
They were on the beach on Tel Aviv when the bomb sirens went off, so they ran to the nearest café to seek shelter and spent the next four days in hiding while frantically trying to organise new flights home.
The couple’s daughter, Brittany West, told Daily Mail Australia the group had been in Gaza about 24 hours before the attacks.
She said their original flights were cancelled and it was hard to get a seat on new ones due to limited options after airlines stopped operating through Israel.
‘Anything that came up was booked out quickly,’ she said
As the group watches travellers from other nations such as Canada, Germany, Romania, Greece, Hungary, India, Thailand and Brazil get repatriated by their own governments, they wonder why Australian leaders aren’t doing the same.
Pictured: The Australian tour group who were stuck in Israel when war broke out on Saturday. Thirteen are still stranded
Pictured: Tour guide Paul West, pictured front, and other members of the group in a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv
Twenty members of the group managed to book flights for Tuesday, but about 13 are still waiting.
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Now, staff at the hotel where they sought refuge are urging them to flee, saying ‘do everything you can to get out because it’s only going to escalate’.
Brittany said there’s a sense of urgency and fear from everyone who has been left behind.
‘They’re doing everything they can to get themselves onto a flight but they keep getting cancelled,’ she said.
‘I spoke to one of the couples last night and they’re honestly feeling abandoned by the government – we don’t understand why other governments are able to evacuate their residents.
‘There really needs to be a rescue mission, but if we wait too long it might be a recovery mission.’
Brittany said her parents had been running the tours with a company in Israel since about 2011, but this year was their first trip since the pandemic.
Brittany’s mother Audrey posted a photo of Gaza just 24 hours before it became a warzone (pictured)
Paul and Audrey West (pictured) have been guiding Australians through Israel since 2011
She urged the government to charter a flight for Australians, like other nations, and has called on Aussies to put pressure on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Around 10,000 Australians are still in Israel, according to Defence Minister Richard Marles.
DFAT didn’t respond to the group’s dilemma or why the Albanese Government wasn’t doing more.
Instead, a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia the government is ‘monitoring the situation closely and remains in touch with local authorities’.
‘Presently there are commercial flights available and Australians in Israel who wish to leave should pursue those options,’ it said.
‘Our thoughts are with those killed and injured in these attacks and others affected.’
Mr Albanese has also come under fire for his ‘pussyfooting’ response to anti-Semitic protests in Sydney on Monday.
The couple (pictured centre and second right) work with a tour group in Israel (managers pictured front left and right)
John Howard, who led Australia in the wake of the September 11 attacks, said the Prime Minister’s denouncement did not go far enough.
‘Mr Albanese should make some unequivocal statements, as should the Foreign Minister,’ he told The Australian.
‘Instead of that there is pussyfooting and lukewarm condemnation. Then you have the New South Wales Attorney-General (Michael Daley) saying everyone should remain calm and go home.
‘How can you remain calm when demonstrators are invoking the memory of the Holocaust? People remain calm in that?’
The civilian death toll from the Hamas attacks on Israel climbed to more than 1,000, as the overall tally of fatalities reached 3,100 since war broke out on Saturday.
Australian-born grandmother Galit Carbone, 66, was among those killed in the Be’eri kibbutz, about 5km from the Gaza Strip. Her body was found metres from her home.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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