A man carries a girl who was injured by Israeli bombardment on al-Bureij outside the Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on June 4, 2024
A man carries a girl injured by Israeli bombardment on al-Bureij outside the Aqsa Martyrs hospital in the central Gaza Strip on June 4, 2024. AFP

Denying allegations of arms supply to Israel since the Gaza attack began, the Australian government stated that it had approved permits to send eight defense-related equipment that required repair from Israeli manufacturers.

Appearing before the Senate estimates committee hearing, officials affirmed that the government has approved eight defense permits, six more than previously known, since Israel began its attack on Gaza in October.

The two earlier approvals included a defense equipment which would be returned to Australia and another a "non-lethal item" that was being sent back to Israel, The Guardian reported.

"I want to be very clear that these [six] new export permits are for items used by Australian defense and law enforcement and will return to Australia," Labor senator Jenny McAllister, representing the defense minister at the hearing, said, adding that some of the defense equipment was "manufactured and repaired by companies based in Israel."

She added that the Labor government would "calibrate" its approach and consider the circumstances in the Middle East, and accordingly scrutinize the pre-existing export permits to Israel "to ensure that they align with this calibrated approach".

For months, the federal government has faced severe attack, especially from the Greens, on the issue of Australia transferring arms and ammunition to Israel. The Greens demanded that Albanese government halt its arms trade with Israel and stop being complicit in the "genocide" in Gaza.

The Greens quoted data by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dfat) that showed Australia directly exported over $1.5m in arms and ammunition to Israel in February 2024 alone.

But the Department of Defense officials rejected the Dfat data, saying that it's based on what exporters called the most relevant category. In addition, they denied media reports that Australia supplied arms and ammunition.

"The most recent figure ... $1.5m is for a single item – that is a return-to-Australia-item that falls under the category of what we've just been talking about in that it supports Australian defense capability," David Nockels, a first assistant secretary, said.

The officials, however, confirmed that Australian businesses have been contributing to the supply chain for items used in F-35 aircraft, adding that these parts were "all exported to a central repository in the United States."

"I think the question of whether or not the F-35 is being employed in the crisis in Israel is not material to the question of whether or not we grant an export permit," an official told the Senate committee.

To this, Greens senator David Shoebridge responded: "So you export them to a central pool in the US and you wash your hands of any responsibility about them then being used in the genocide in Gaza?"

A report by Amnesty International calls attention to the "opaque approval process" by the Australian government. The report quotes Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35 fighter jet, on how "every F-35 built contains some Australian parts and components."

On Tuesday, Israel signed a $3 billion deal with the US for the procurement of 25 advanced F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, The EurAsian Times reported.