Amid escalating conflict, around 500 Keralites migrated to Israel

Migration going on as there is no embargo on movement of people between two countries and as majority of the areas in Israel are still free from the impact of the war

Updated - March 06, 2024 05:50 pm IST

Published - March 05, 2024 08:52 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

 A file photo of Pat Nibin Maxwell who was killed in a terror attack in Israel on Tuesday.

A file photo of Pat Nibin Maxwell who was killed in a terror attack in Israel on Tuesday.

Amid the escalating Israel-Palestine conflict, close to 500 Keralites have migrated to Israel since the war began on October 7, 2023.

Borgian Solomon, a native of Kollam and a former joint secretary of the Israel Malayali Association who has been working in Israel for the past 16 years, told The Hindu that migration from Kerala was still going on as there was no embargo on the movement of people between the two countries.

During the period from November 2023 to January 2024, close to 500 Keralites had reached Israel on employment visa, while people still reached Israel on tourist visa from Kerala, though the numbers are not as high as those in the past.

Pat Nibin Maxwell from Kollam was killed and two others were injured on March 4 when an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon struck an orchard near Israel’s northern border community of Margaliot. He had reached Israel for agriculture works in December, 2023, said Mr. Solomon.

Pact signed

Unlike many other war-torn countries, the majority of the areas in Israel were still free from the impact of the war. There was no major security threat to the Indians in the country, which was one reason for the continuing migration to Israel, he added. Further, the Indian government recently signed a three-year agreement with the Israeli government on ‘Facilitation of the Temporary Employment of Indian Workers in Specific Labour Market Sectors in Israel’.  

Suman Billa, Principal Secretary, Department of Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NoRKA), said since there was no embargo on the migration of people to Israel, people from the State had also been travelling. However, the State government had no official data on the number of people who migrated to Israel after the war began. Though the NoRKA-Roots, the field agency of the NoRKA, had started a registration process for people migrating to foreign countries to ensure their well-being, the exercise was not legally binding or mandatory, he said. 

To make a living

Ajith Kolassery, Chief Executive Officer of NoRKA-Roots, said that despite the potential risks involved in the migration to war-hit countries, the migration underscored the point that people were ready to risk their lives to make a living. 

A 41-year-old nurse and caregiver from the State was injured in a rocket attack on Ashkelon, Israel, in October 2023. Notably, 121 Keralites were evacuated by the Indian government as part of Operation Ajay when the war began in Israel. 

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