Operation Ajay: First batch of Indians to fly back from Israel on Thursday | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Operation Ajay: First batch of Indians to fly back from Israel on Thursday

Oct 12, 2023 11:55 AM IST

Nearly 30 people from Meghalaya ncluding Rajya Sabha member Wanweiroy Kharlukhi on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem crossed over to Egypt after violence erupted

The first batch of Indians is expected to return from Israel on Thursday on a special flight arranged as part of “Operation Ajay”, which is facilitating citizens who wish to come home following an upsurge in violence since the Hamas attacks last weekend.

Aftermath of a scene where a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in Ashkelon in southern Israel on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Aftermath of a scene where a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in Ashkelon in southern Israel on Wednesday. (Reuters)

India launched the operation on Wednesday, with external affairs minister S Jaishankar announcing that the government will assist citizens who wish to return from Israel. Special charter flights and other arrangements were being put in place for this, he posted on X.

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The Indian embassy in Israel, in another post on X, said it had informed the first batch of Indian citizens who had registered to return about the special flight being operated on Thursday. “Messages to other registered people will follow for subsequent flights,” the mission said.

People familiar with the matter said the mission in Tel Aviv had received requests for assistance from Indian nationals who were stranded in Israel, including tourists. They said that assets of the navy and air force could also be mobilised for bringing back Indian nationals if the need arises.

The people further said Operation Ajay is not technically an evacuation as travel arrangements are being made only for Indians who have specified that they wish to return home.

The move comes at a time when several countries, including Hungary, Poland, Italy and Mexico, have operated special flights to evacuate their citizens from Israel in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks that killed 1,200 Israelis and several dozen foreigners over the weekend.

There have been no reports of casualties among the 18,000 Indian nationals living in Israel. The figure includes caregivers, diamond traders, IT professionals and about 900 Indian students.

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Reports have said that some 17 Indians are currently in Palestinian areas, including 13 in the West Bank and four in the Gaza Strip, which is currently being targeted by Israeli forces as part of the offensive against Hamas.

Nearly 30 people from Meghalaya, including Rajya Sabha member Wanweiroy Kharlukhi, who were on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem, crossed over to Egypt via a land border crossing after the violence erupted.

Concerns about the security situation have grown after citizens of neighbouring countries lost their lives in the violence. Ten Nepalese citizens were killed at one of the locations attacked by Hamas, while four more were injured and another reported missing. The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment has said a Sri Lankan woman reported missing is suspected to be dead.

A 24-hour control room has been set up at the external affairs ministry to monitor the situation in Israel and Palestine and to assist Indian nationals. Officials from the Indian embassy in Israel met students at Tel Aviv University and a group of caregivers on Wednesday to allay their concerns and to assure them of help.

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