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Pressure mounts on Australia to call for Gaza ceasefire

Pressure is mounting for the Australian government to call for a complete ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as the civilian death toll mounts.

The Albanese government has backed calls for a humanitarian pause and for the rapid deployment of aid into the besieged strip, with assistance trickling in through an Israeli blockade of fuel, water and supplies.

The Greens on Monday staged a protest in the Senate, walking out after calling for a free Palestine.

An emotional Senator Mehreen Faruqi said Gaza had become "a graveyard for children" and the Australian government continued to shield Israel from accountability.

"History will judge the Labor Party and the Labor government for staying silent or even being complicit in the massacre that is happening in Palestine," she said.

"Weasel words won't stop war crimes."

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry condemned the walkout.

"They pose as pacifists but they know that a ceasefire will hand victory to Hamas and encourage more jihadism in the West," co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said.

Federal ministers have consistently called for Israel to act within the confines of international law while reaffirming its right to defend itself.

Foreign ministers from Qatar, Saudi, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have lobbied US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to persuade Israel to agree to a ceasefire.

Pope Francis also urged a ceasefire, branding the situation in Gaza as "very grave".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out any ceasefire until hostages were returned.

Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi
Senator Mehreen Faruqi says the federal government continues to shield Israel from accountability.

The federal government is continuing to assist 79 people in Gaza after 25 citizens and family members were able to make it out through the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

Most have since returned to Australia.

No departures from Gaza have been possible in recent days, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman confirmed after reports the Rafah crossing had been shut again.

"Australia is supporting international efforts to keep the Rafah border crossing open for humanitarian purposes, including the passage of civilians," the spokesman said in a statement.

The Israeli army has surrounded Gaza's main city as its invasion of the strip in search of Hamas militants continues.

Hamas, which is deemed a terrorist organisation by the Australian government, killed more than 1400 Israelis and took more than 240 hostages in an attack on October 7.

The Palestinian death toll from Israel's retaliatory strikes, which have hit refugee camps and ambulances, is nearing 10,000, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry.

Israel says 31 of its soldiers have been killed.

Australians returning home from Gaza at Sydney Airport
Australians fleeing war-torn Gaza have begun to arrive back home.

Palestinian human rights groups have launched legal action seeking records of weapons exports granted by Defence Minister Richard Marles since October 7.

"We are seeing the makings of a genocide unfold in front of our eyes," Al Mezan Centre director Issam Younis said of the events in Gaza.

If Australia was "selling Israel the means to commit that genocide", it would breach Australia's international obligations and its arms export laws, he said.

There is "credible public information" Australian goods and technology might be being used to abate genocide specifically against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, the groups said in an affidavit seen by AAP.

Australia has approved 322 defence exports to Israel over the past six years but such exports weren't lethal in nature and included items such as radios, body armour, software, vehicle parts and sporting equipment, defence officials have said.