Anthony Albanese says the Australian government stands with Israel in the wake of the attacks.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has condemned attacks by Hamas against Israel, describing the conflict as a “very dark 24 hours”.
The Palestinian militant group, which rules the Gaza Strip and has been classified as a terrorist organisation by Australia since 2001, launched a multi-front attack on Israel on Saturday that included missile strikes and fighter incursions.
Israeli media reported at least 400 Israelis were killed while Gazan health officials said more than 300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s retaliatory air strikes on Gaza City.
Albanese said no Australians, including ADF personnel, were caught up in the attacks in Israel, but conceded it was still too early to get an accurate assessment.
He said the government stood with Israel.
“This is an abhorrent attack on Israel. This is indiscriminate. Civilians being targeted, killed and murdered, and as well, many of them being taken as hostages,” he told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
“Of course, people are worried about escalation, but Israel has a right to defend itself and it will be doing so.
“This has been a very dark 24 hours.”
The Prime Minister confirmed he had spoken with Israel’s ambassador to Australia since the attack.
“He, of course, was very shaken, as you would expect, and this action is ongoing, it must stop,” Albanese said.
“This is a dreadful circumstance that people didn’t see coming.”
Foreign Minister Penny Wong called for the attacks to stop and said Australia recognised Israel’s right to defend the country.
“Australia unequivocally condemns the attacks on Israel by Hamas including indiscriminate rocket fire on cities & civilians,” Senator Wong said on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the coalition “utterly condemns the unprovoked and abhorrent attack by militant Hamas on Israel.
“It is yet another example of a deliberate act of violence intended to inflict maximum harm on innocent civilians,” he said.
“The attack is a provocation. Israel has every right to defend itself in response and to deter future attacks and other acts of aggression, coercion and interference”.
Former Australian ambassador to Israel and Liberal MP Dave Sharma said the attacks by Hamas were “unprecedented”.
“We’ve never seen anything like this from Hamas before in its aggression against Israel,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
“There will need to be a lot of analysis and reflection there about what has gone wrong there, because obviously this has always been an active military front for Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country’s military would retaliate.
“We are in a war and we will win it,” he said.
Hamas said the attack was driven by what it said were Israel’s escalated attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and against Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
Hamas commander Mohammad Deif said it was “the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth” as residents of Gaza rushed to buy supplies in anticipation of days of conflict ahead.
Israel’s ambassador to Australia Amir Maimon offered his “deepest thanks to the Prime Minister, foreign minister, Opposition leader and several state premiers for their “phone calls with messages of support”.
“I know they speak for millions of Australians and friends of Israel. These are terrible, dark days for my country. Now we have the grim task of finishing a fight we did not seek, and did not start. We will spare no effort in defending our homeland,” Maimon said on X
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council said in a statement it rejected the claims of Hamas that the attack was related to the desecration of the al-Aqsa Mosque, describing this as a “feeble pretext”.
“The real reason is far more likely to be Hamas’ concern at progress being made in peace talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein said.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry had called on the Australian government to condemn the attacks against Israel.
“Any calls for de-escalation by ‘both sides’ or attempts to draw equivalences between the crimes of a terrorist organisation and the defensive measures of a sovereign and democratic state are misconceived and only play into the hands of the terrorists,” it said.
The Zionist Federation of Australia called it “an appalling, unprovoked attack that breaches all norms,” accusing Hamas of “shooting civilians in cold blood in their homes”.
The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) criticised Albanese’s comments, saying western leaders “ignored all of the injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians, for the last week, the last year and the last 75 years”.
APAN said there was a “glaring hypocrisy and double standard” when Ukrainian resistance against Russia was celebrated while Palestinians were criticised “for using the same tactics”.
“Israeli forces, including rampaging settlers, have killed Palestinians each and every day this year, APAN president Nasser Mashni said in a statement.
“Just this week Israelis have invaded the most holy sites in Jerusalem; mobs of settlers have attacked Palestinian towns killing Palestinians while Israeli soldiers watch on.”
“The international community has failed the Palestinians. Seventy-five years after the establishment of the Israeli state and the Nakba, Palestinians are still stateless, still denied their right to return to their homes, and live under brutal and inhumane military occupation and apartheid.”
“With talks of Saudi Arabia joining UAE, Morocco and Bahrain in normalising relations with Israel, and no just political solution for the Palestinians in sight – the devastating events of these last 48 hours are destined to continue,” he said.