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  • Rikki Lambert

Morrison urges restraint in Israel as Biden affirms Israel's self-defence

The Australian prime minister has called for restraint between Israel and local militants after days of airstrikes and rocket attacks, with the violence escalating rapidly.

Scott Morrison has raised concerns about escalating violence in Israel, which the United Nations fears could explode into full-scale war.

Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv and towards Jerusalem, leading Israel to vow it will keep pummelling the Islamist faction in Gaza despite a prediction by US President Joe Biden that their fiercest hostilities in years might end soon.

Biden did not explain the reasons behind his optimism but told reporters at the White House that his national security team had been in frequent contact with counterparts in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to try to bring about a resolution of the conflict.

"My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself."

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison has also expressed disappointment after a woman was charged in western Sydney for burning an Israeli flag.

Dozens of people have been killed in the worst violence between Israelis and pro-Palestine militants in several years.

Mr Morrison said it was important the conflict in the Middle East did not spill onto the streets in Australia, telling Sydney 2GB radio on Thursday:

"Of course we are all very concerned about what is happening there.
"We have been urging restraint from all parties involved there to not take any unilateral action on those very stressful and tense situations we are finding there.
"But those things should not be played out here in Australia."

Mr Morrison restated the government's policy of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine and described Australia as an agent for peace.

He urged Australians with ties to the conflict to act with tolerance and respect.

"By all means, people can have concerns and views, and there is a tolerance for that, but at the same time we do not want to import the troubles of other parts of the world into this country."

The fighting erupted on Monday night after weeks of rising tensions.

At least 65 Palestinians and six people in Israel have since died in the heaviest exchange of airstrikes and rocket fire since the two sides fought a war in 2014.

The Israel Defense Force posted video of its anti-missile battery defending its territory:

UN diplomat Tor Wennesland urged restraint from both sides.

"Stop the fire immediately. We're escalating towards a full-scale war.
"The cost of war in Gaza is devastating and is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working with all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now."

-- with AAP


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