Countries evacuate citizens as Israel-Hamas war rages

By AFP   October 11, 2023 | 08:05 am PT
Countries evacuate citizens as Israel-Hamas war rages
Smoke billows following Israeli strikes in Gaza City, October 11, 2023. Photo by Reuters/Saleh Salem
Thousands of foreigners find themselves stuck in Israel and across the Palestinian territories, where a full-blown war has erupted since Hamas group launched their onslaught on Saturday.

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, 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.


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 live in the Palestinian territories.

Some had already left on commercial flights, it said.


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.

The group was travelling from Bethlehem to Nazareth when they heard news of the attack in the south of Israel.

With the war erupting, the group and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims' Commission organised for them to travel by road to Jordan and then take a chartered flight to Lagos.


Swiss International Air Lines repatriated 220 Swiss nationals on Tuesday.

A second special flight with a capacity of 215 seats is planned for Wednesday, requested by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

A third flight is scheduled for Thursday, expected to land in Tel Aviv in the afternoon, 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.


Spain organised a flight from Tel Aviv overnight to Wednesday with 200 people on board, its foreign ministry said.

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.


The Canadian government said it would organise special flights from Tel Aviv later in the week for Canadian nationals, with help from the Canadian military.


French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna announced on Tuesday that her ministry's crisis unit was organising a special Air France flight from Tel Aviv on Thursday to help repatriate any French nationals who have been unable to leave.


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 home, a foreign ministry source said.


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


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


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


Finland says it will organise the repatriation of its nationals from the region.

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