‘Operation Ajay’ set to evacuate Indian nationals from Israel

Special flight likely to take off for India on October 12

October 11, 2023 11:18 pm | Updated October 12, 2023 01:56 pm IST - NEW DELHI

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. File

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. File | Photo Credit: AFP

India is putting in place a major operation to evacuate its citizens who wish to return from conflict-hit Israel. Announcing the initiative late on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said special chartered flights are being arranged. 

This will be the second evacuation this year, after Operation Kaveri that brought back several thousand Indian citizens from conflict-torn Sudan in April-May. 

Israel-Palestine conflict October 12 live updates

“Launching Operation Ajay to facilitate the return from Israel of our citizens who wish to return. Special charter flights and other arrangements being put in place. Fully committed to the safety and well-being of our nationals abroad,” posted Mr. Jaishankar on X, formerly Twitter. 

The Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv stated that it has emailed the first lot of registered Indian citizens for the special flight that is expected to take off for India on Thursday. “Messages to other registered people will follow for subsequent flights,” said the embassy in a post on X.

The announcement has come days after Air India suspended its service in the Delhi-Tel Aviv route as Hamas carried out a crippling attack on Israel last Saturday. Following that ground, sky and sea attack, Israel has launched a massive military strike against Gaza Strip. The rapid escalation has also drawn the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, which has lobbed rockets at Israel’s northern territory drawing Israeli strikes. The situation has turned the sky above Israel risky prompting cancellation of many international flights. 

A source indicated that the scale of Operation Ajay will depend on demand and that the government will augment capacities depending on further need.

Control room set up

India has been preparing for the escalating situation soon after the conflict erupted on Saturday. On Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs set up a 24-hour control room, which will operate simultaneously from New Delhi, Tel Aviv and Ramallah in the Palestinian territory.

There are at least 900 Indian students who are enrolled in various Israeli universities and institutions. That apart, a large number of traders, IT professionals and domestic workers and caregivers work in Israel. A significant part of Israeli population consists of Indian-origin Jews who trace their background to Kochi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Earlier, in May India sealed an agreement to allow recruitment of 42,000 caregivers and workers for Israel. 

Soon after the outbreak of the hostilities, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had brought to notice that pilgrims from his State were stuck in Bethlehem in Palestinian territories and sought assistance from the External Affairs Minister to evacuate them.

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