SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — The Australian government has pledged an additional $3.5 million in aid to Palestinian civilians caught in the Gaza Strip conflict.
Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday said the government was “gravely concerned” by the escalating violence and “deeply saddened” by the loss of life, which has spiraled past 400 Palestinians since Israel began its military operation last Saturday.
Gillard said the government “strongly condemns” Hamas for firing rockets and mortars into southern Israel, provoking Israel into air strikes. Four Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza since the operation began.
The extra funds – to be channeled through the United Nations and other relief agencies – are to be used for humanitarian aid and added that the government “stands ready to consider further assistance in the future," Gillard said
Australia doubled its aid commitment to Palestinians to $32 million in 2008.