Indian Nationals Evacuated from Israel in ‘Operation Ajay’ Amid Escalating Conflict
In a critical response to the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, the first charter flight under ‘Operation Ajay’ safely transported 212 Indian nationals from Israel to the Delhi airport on Friday morning. This evacuation mission, spearheaded by the Indian government, was met with relief and gratitude by the returning passengers, with Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekar personally receiving them at the airport.
The ongoing strife in the region, marked by multi-pronged attacks initiated by Hamas and the subsequent Israeli retaliation, has claimed the lives of over 2,500 individuals. Israel’s formidable counter-offensive in Gaza reflects a determined effort to counter the relentless assaults by Hamas.
One of the passengers, expressing gratitude to the government, stated, “This is the first time that we are facing this situation over there. We are very thankful to the Indian government, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing us back. We are hoping for peace as soon as possible so that we can go back to work as earliest as possible.”
Another passenger, holding an infant, provided a glimpse into the harrowing conditions faced in Israel, recounting an incident where they had to seek shelter due to sirens. Now safely returned to India, she expressed relief and heartfelt thanks to the Government of India for their efforts.
The selection of passengers for the charter flight was based on a “first come first serve” basis, following a drive initiated by the Indian embassy to register all Indian nationals in their database. The government is shouldering the cost of their repatriation.
The charter flight, arranged to facilitate the return of those who were unable to do so due to the immediate suspension of Air India flights on October 7, took off from Tel Aviv at 10:14 pm local time. Commercial operations of Air India remain suspended in the region.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar confirmed the commencement of ‘Operation Ajay’ and the safe departure of the 212 citizens in a social media post. The airport witnessed a substantial gathering of Indians, including students, eager to board the special flight arranged to bring them back home.
Jaishankar had earlier announced the launch of Operation Ajay to ensure the return of Indians who wished to come back home amidst the escalating conflict. He reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of its citizens abroad.
As the situation in the region continues to evolve, the Indian government, in close coordination with its diplomatic missions, remains dedicated to the safe return of its nationals, reflecting a resolute commitment to the welfare of its citizens in times of crisis. The embassy has already announced a second flight for the same purpose and is processing registrations on a first-come, first-served basis.
Global Support for Palestinians Echoes in Baghdad
Meanwhile, thousands of Iraqis gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square to express solidarity with the Palestinian people amid the intensifying conflict between Israel and Hamas. The demonstration, called for by Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr, denounced the occupation and called for an end to American intervention in the region. Protesters waved Palestinian and Iraqi flags, with a large Israeli flag placed on the ground for symbolic purposes.
Abu Kayan, one of the organizers, highlighted the rally’s aim to condemn the violence and rights violations in occupied Palestine. Moqtada Sadr’s movement enforced stringent security measures around Tahrir Square, while Iraqi security forces maintained a significant presence to ensure the safety of the demonstration.
The Iraqi government, aligned with the sentiments of the protesters, staunchly supports the Palestinian cause. As Israel’s offensive against Hamas persists, the conflict continues to escalate, prompting international concern and calls for de-escalation. The ongoing crisis has spurred expressions of solidarity and a renewed focus on finding a resolution to the longstanding conflict in the region.