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Defence sends aircraft and troops to support Aussies in Middle East

written by Robert Dougherty | October 25, 2023

A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A arrives at Perth International Airport after transporting passengers from Dubai as part of Operation BEECH. (Image: CPOIS Yuri Ramsey/Defence)

Australian Defence Force personnel and aircraft will be deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Beech, according to the federal government.

Australian Army personnel have deployed from Townsville and Brisbane, alongside two Royal Australian Air Force C-130J aircraft, as part of Defence’s support to the Australian government’s response to the Hamas–Israel conflict.

These forces will be followed by the deployment of a C-17A Globemaster heavy transport aircraft and the ADF contingent already in the region.

Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles said the deployments are a significant contingent of soldiers and aircraft.

“We’re not identifying where they will be, but the point of this is to provide support to Australian populations who are in the Middle East if this gets worse, in essence; it’s a volatile situation; we very much hope it doesn’t,” he said, speaking to the ABC earlier this week.


“We hope that this is confined to Israel and Gaza, but we’re all watching this as the world is watching this, and we want to make sure that we’re prepared if matters do get worse.

“If you are in the region, if you’re in a place like Lebanon and you want to leave, then do … Take the commercial options that are available to you and make your departure.

“This is a volatile situation. We don’t exactly know how this is going to play out. We, as a government, will do what we can, but if you want to leave, make sure that you take your opportunities now.

“Israel does have a right to defend itself. We’ve made that very clear in terms of being a view of the Australian government, and that means they have a right to move against Hamas.

“Now, in saying all of that, obviously the rules of war need to be respected and there has to be a focus on the protection of civilian life.

“We understand the Middle East has a long and complex history and there are very strong opinions that people have about the Middle East on both sides, opinions that people will have in this country as well. But nothing, nothing justifies the attacks that Hamas made a few weeks ago on those innocent Israelis.”

The deployment of Australian aircraft and supporting Defence personnel is a precautionary measure to support whole-of-Australian government contingency options due to the risk of the security situation deteriorating further.

More than 800 Australians have now been airlifted from Israel since the first Australian government-assisted departure flight earlier this month.

“(There are) 79 (Australians) now who we’re in contact with in Gaza and they are the ones who are in the most difficult situation, obviously,” Marles said.

“We are working with the international community to try and establish that humanitarian corridor.

“We’re very much encouraging those people to get to the southern part of Gaza in accordance with the warnings that have been made by Israel. But we are in touch with those Australians and we will continue to be doing everything within our power to try and make a pathway for them to safety.”

Australians in the region who are seeking Australian government support should register via DFAT’s Crisis Portal or by calling the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to provide updates to registered Australians.

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