Countries evacuate citizens as Israel-Hamas war rages

AFP , Thursday 12 Oct 2023

Thousands of foreigners are stuck in Israel and across the Palestinian territories where a full-blown war has erupted since Hamas militants launched their attack.

Mexican citizens fleeing the conflict between Israel and Hamas step off an Air Force plane upon arri
Mexican citizens fleeing the conflict between Israel and Hamas step off an Air Force plane upon arrival from Israel at Santa Lucia Air Force base in Santa Lucia, Zumpango Municipality, Mexico, on October 11, 2023. AFP

 

With the violence having already claimed thousands of lives on both sides, several countries have launched operations to repatriate their citizens, while others plan to do so in the coming days.

Here is an overview of ongoing and planned evacuations, according to official sources.

Argentina
 

Argentina, the Latin American country with the largest Jewish population, on Tuesday started evacuating more than 1,200 of its citizens from Israel.

Three air force flights a day will take the 1,246 Argentines who have asked to be evacuated to the Italian capital Rome, Defence Minister Jorge Taiana said.

From there, state-owned airline Aerolineas Argentinas will fly them to Buenos Aires.

Austria
 

The Austrian government announced that it brought back 98 people late Wednesday. The group included 83 Austrians and 15 others, including Israelis, Germans, Hungarians, Americans, Spanish and Dutch.

Brazil
 

Brazil's government plans to mobilise at least six planes in a bid to rapidly repatriate any of its citizens who wish to leave Israel and the Palestinian territories.

It said that about 14,000 Brazilians live in Israel and 6,000 in the Palestinian territories.

A first flight, carrying 211 Brazilians, returned before dawn Wednesday. A second is due back in Brazil on Thursday.

Canada
 

Canada on Wednesday dispatched two army aircraft to cope with a "surge in demand" to fly Canadians home "in the coming days", said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

More than 4,200 Canadian citizens are registered with Ottawa's consular services in Israel and another 470 in the Palestinian territories.

France
 

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna has announced a special Air France flight from Tel Aviv on Thursday to help repatriate any French nationals who have been unable to leave.

Germany
 

Germany said it was working with Lufthansa to organise "several special flights" on Thursday and Friday to repatriate German citizens.

"Around 4,500 German citizens" have registered on a list seeking help to return, a foreign ministry source said.

Greece
 

The foreign ministry said about around 90 Greek citizens have already been repatriated from Israel.

Another flight was scheduled to arrive in Greece early Thursday.

Iceland
 

The Iceland government announced it will send a plane to repatriate around 120 of its nationals stuck in Israel.

Mexico
 

Two military planes carrying a group of 287 Mexicans repatriated from Israel and the Palestinian territories arrived in Mexico on Wednesday, the country's foreign minister said.

Both aircraft landed in the evening, three hours apart, at Felipe Angeles airport, which serves the Mexican capital. The flights took off from Tel Aviv on Tuesday and completed four stopovers on their route.

Mexico's government says that about 1,000 people have requested help to return to the country. It was unclear if the government was organising more flights.

According to official data, about 5,000 Mexicans reside in Israel, two in the Gaza Strip and 35 in the West Bank.

Nigeria
 

Nigeria has airlifted more than 300 of its citizens back home after they fled to Jordan from Israel, where they were on a Christian pilgrimage, the Lagos state government said.

Norway
 

Norway organised a flight on Wednesday evening for its citizens stuck in Israel and Palestinian territories. There are around 500 Norwegian nationals in the region.

Portugal
 

Portugal repatriated 152 of its nationals Wednesday morning, as well as 14 other Europeans, in a Portuguese military aircraft.

South Korea
 

A flight carrying 192 South Korean citizens took off from Tel Aviv and landed at the Incheon International Airport near Seoul early Wednesday, the foreign ministry said.

Another 30 South Korean nationals will be evacuated later in the week by commercial flights, it said, adding that 27 others, who were in Israel on a Christian pilgrimage, will go by road to neighbouring Jordan.

Spain
 

Spain organised a flight from Tel Aviv overnight to Wednesday with 209 people on board, 185 Spaniards and others from European nations and Latin America.

A second flight took off from Tel Aviv in the afternoon carrying 220 passengers, including 149 Spanish nationals.

Switzerland
 

Swiss International Air Lines repatriated 220 Swiss nationals on Tuesday.

A second special flight with a capacity of 215 seats was planned for Wednesday.

A third flight was scheduled for Thursday, also with a capacity of 215 seats.

Around 28,000 Swiss citizens and their families are officially registered as living in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Ukraine
 

Kyiv's ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said Wednesday that Ukraine has planned a first evacuation flight from Tel Aviv on Saturday and possibly a second one on Sunday.

With flights to Ukraine halted because of the Russian invasion, the planes would likely go to neighbouring countries like Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Poland, he told Ukrainian television.

One thousand Ukrainians citizens have asked for evacuation.

"There is a big problem with our citizens who are in the Gaza Strip," and number about 300, the ambassador said.

The authorities have "put together lists for the evacuation of approximately 160 people from the Gaza Strip -- and this number is constantly increasing -- to Egypt through Rafah, and then to third countries," he added.

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