A week-long festival celebrating Australia and Israel’s friendship — Ozraeli — is now underway. The event is celebrating common features the two countries share and their strong diplomatic ties.

Australian ambassador in Israel, Dave Sharma, Embassy staff and their families, KKL-JNF volunteers, about 150 Australian youngsters and Kinneret Authority advocacy teams kicked off the first Israel-Australia week with a beach cleanup on September 18.

“The international clean-up day initiative, which started initially in Australia, has become an international tradition, I am proud for that. Each and every one of us needs to treat the environment the same as one does its own home. Our home is not the street or city in which we live, but planet Earth, the responsibility is international, crossing borders and countries, only together in cooperation, can we protect our planet. One hundred years ago Australian soldiers fought right here against the Ottoman Empire to liberate the country, and now, Australian youngsters are here to safe keep and preserve it,” said Sharma.

Tomorrow, an Australian-Israeli football game will take place at the Sportek at Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. There will also be a traditional Australian Barbie (BBQ) with meat pies, sausage rolls, and beer on tap to help recreate the atmosphere at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The main gala event will take place on September 26 at the Peres Peace Center in Jaffa. On the bill are Australian singers, Australian comedians, Australian music, and Australian food.

“Like our two countries, it’s meant to be a fun and light-hearted celebration of friendship,” reads the invitation. “Think of it as like a national day, but without the dull speeches and formality, and with a lot more color and life.”

According to Sharma, 12,000 Israelis visit Australia every year, while 35,000 Aussies visit Israel.

And, Ynet reports that the Aussie diplomat is working to set up a direct flight between Tel Aviv and Sydney. Such a flight would cut down travel time from 27 hours to a 16.5 hour flight.