Bid to free hostages

"Any effort that might give even the tiniest bit of additional help to bring them home is welcome, no matter how remote the prospects," says Simon Birmingham.

Photo: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
Photo: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

The Australian government has approached China in a diplomatic bid to release Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

Following Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories last month, Canberra has made representations to Beijing, asking that it use its influence to help secure the release of hostages taken in the October 7 terror attacks, including Noa Argamani, who is of Chinese descent.

The FM instructed Department of Foreign Affairs officials to make the representation, following a direct request in her meetings with Israeli officials.

Argamani, 26, was abducted from the Supernova music festival on October 7, and was seen on a Hamas video pleading, “Don’t kill me.” On January 15, the terror organisation released a further video of her in captivity. The 26-year-old’s mother Liora is from Wuhan, China.

A spokesperson for Wong told The AJN, “The Foreign Minister made a commitment to the families of hostages that she will continue to use Australia’s voice to call for the immediate, unconditional and safe return of all those taken during the October 7 terror attacks.”

The spokesperson said Australia is working “with countries of influence in the region to advocate for the release of hostages”.

Contacted by The AJN, Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham reflected, “Any effort that might give even the tiniest bit of additional help to bring them home is welcome, no matter how remote the prospects.”

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “We welcome any intervention from the Australian government in aid of securing the release of the hostages. The Foreign Minister has been consistent in her calls for the immediate release of the hostages, and so it’s no surprise she had undertaken this effort.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “China does seem to have some sway with Iran’s terror proxies, given the Houthis have seemingly avoided firing on Chinese ships, so we see this initiative as having some chance of success if DFAT does succeed in getting China involved.”

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