Australians stuck in Gaza are anxiously waiting for their chance to cross into Egypt amid hopes there could be further evacuations over the coming days.
Last week, 25 Australian citizens and their family members escaped the besieged territory after being allowed through the Rafah crossing.
But since there has been no further movements, Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts confirmed on Sunday.
“We are pressing very hard because we know how dire the situation is in Gaza. Its is a very serious humanitarian situation there,” he said.
“It really is a very serious humanitarian situation there … that’s also why we’ve been calling for a humanitarian pause to enable that desperately needed humanitarian support to get to the people that need it, safely.”
The pass was opened as part of a multinational deal brokered between US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar to allow foreign citizens to leave Gaza.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed as of Sunday there were still 67 Australians and family members trapped in Gaza.
“We continue to engage closely with partners in the region to ensure the remaining Australians in Gaza who wish to leave are able to do so as soon as possible,” a spokesperson said.
Mr Watts also acknowledged the increasingly severe humanitarian situation in Gaza and flagged the government’s $25m aid package to provide food, water, medical assistance and fuel.
Only 300 trucks with food, water and medicine have been allowed entry into Gaza by Israel in the past 13 days for a population of more than 2.2 million, according to the United Nations.
“It’s is a very serious humanitarian situation there,” Mr Watts said on Sunday.
“That’s why we’re pushing to get Australians out across that border crossing, but it’s also why we’re pushing very hard to get humanitarian assistance in.”
Mr Watts echoed calls from Foreign Minister Penny Wong for a humanitarian ‘pause’ and added that his government was not in a political position to call for a ceasefire.
“A ceasefire is traditionally viewed as part of a political process where the parties come together to seek to negotiate as part of a broader political conclusion to a conflict,” he said.
“We recognise that the parties aren’t in a position where they can negotiate a political settlement on this issue at present, but there is a desperate humanitarian need now.
“We need to get that food, water, medical supplies and fuel into Gaza as soon as possible to help those people who are absolutely desperately in need.”
https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/anxious-wait-for-67-australians-who-remain-trapped-in-gaza-c-12446455 Anxious wait for 67 Australians who remain trapped in Gaza