Australians are among hundreds of thousands of Israeli Defence Force reservists who have arrived in Israel to take up arms as the military prepares for an imminent ground invasion of Gaza.
In an unprecedented move, the Israeli government has mobilised 360,000 reserve soldiers from around the world, including a number of Israeli-Australians, an Israeli government official has confirmed.
The mobilisation comes in the wake of the weekend’s assault by Hamas, who overran towns, kibbutzes and army bases near Gaza, killing more than 1300 civilians and soldiers, and resulting in Israel’s retaliatory declaration of war.
It is understood that a number of Australian citizens boarded a flight from Bangkok where transport planes dispatched by the IDF flew to Israel.
Other Australians have taken commercial flights to Ben Gurion International Airport.
NCA NewsWire understands Israel’s ambassador to Australia will meet Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Monday.
The mobilisation is the largest military draft in the history of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) with reservists from around the world compulsorily required to assist in the fighting efforts.
Military service is required for many Israelis when they turn 18.
The move follows an announcement from the Israeli military on Friday which called on the 1.1 million Palestinians living in the north of the Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south by midnight.
“The IDF calls for the evacuation of all civilians of Gaza City from their homes southwards for their own safety and protection and move to the area south of the Wadi Gaza,” a statement from the IDF reads.
“Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields.”
The Israeli military is preparing for a possible ground operation in Gaza, with the evacuation order signalling the offensive may be imminent.
But the United Nations has criticised the intervention, with UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric arguing it would be “impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences”.
“The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded, avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” Mr Dujarric said.
The Home Affairs Department has been contacted for comment.