Foreign governments evacuating citizens from Israel

Thousands of foreign nationals, from Thailand to Hungary, Poland to Mexico, are among those scrambling to get out of the country, with almost no commercial flights available.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Foreign governments have begun evacuating their citizens from Israel who fear for their safety as a result of the war with Hamas that began Saturday.

Brazil, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Romania are among the European countries sending planes to repatriate hundreds at a time.

Hungary sent two planes to rescue 215 people already on Sunday night, its foreign minister said. The same day, Poland announced that it would send aircraft from its military.

“We are sending air force transport planes to carry out the evacuation of Poles currently staying in Israel,” Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Soldiers from our special forces will ensure loading protection and safety on board.”

Canada and Australia have also announced they are evacuating their citizens, with Ottawa saying it has dispatched military aircraft to evacuate hundreds of citizens.

Many commercial airlines stopped flying to Israel as soon as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his country was now at war with Hamas, rather than just retaliating in a limited military operation to the terrorists’ invasion of Israel’s south.

Other governments are chartering flights with private airlines.

Bulgaria sent a state-owned carrier to get 90 out of the country, while Romania flew out 245 citizens in total on four flights, two by its international carrier and two with private airlines.

A charter flight from Ben Gurion Airport landed Sunday night in Albania with 40 citizens from Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia. More such runs are expected, with the Albanian foreign ministry announcing that “In the coming days, there will be more special flights to Tel Aviv, while we are also coordinating with the sister ministries of the countries of the region to come to the aid of all citizens who seek to return to their countries.”

Mexico, Cambodia and Thailand are among other countries seeking to answer the requests of their citizens who want to go home. Bangkok said a thousand nationals have asked for help in leaving, and that its Royal Air Force is on standby to do so.

Mexican President Andres Obrador said Monday that out of its 5,000 citizens currently in the Jewish state, 300 requested to leave and his government sent military aircraft to get them.

There was an influx of thousands of Christian tourists during the Sukkot holiday that immediately preceded the war, as the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem held its annual Feast of the Tabernacles march of solidarity with the Jewish state. There are also hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in Israel, with Asian nationals especially working in the fields throughout the country, including the agricultural communities in the Gaza envelope.

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More than 1,200 Israelis have been killed so far, the majority on the first day of the war, when Hamas terrorists blew up parts of the border fence and stormed through, wantonly shooting hundreds in villages and an outdoors rave in the Gaza envelope.

It is as yet unknown how many foreigners are among the dead, but they include citizens of Australia, Argentina, the U.S., Cambodia, Canada, France, Nepal, Thailand, Russia, the UK and Ukraine.

The U.S. has so far confirmed the deaths of 14 citizens, with most if not all holding dual Israeli-American nationality. The BBC reported that “more than ten” Britons are feared dead or missing, with two deaths confirmed. Argentina has verified four citizens’ deaths, and Thailand announced that 12 of its nationals were murdered.

There are also reportedly foreign nationals among the 150-200 men, women and children that the terrorists forced into Gaza as hostages after raiding the settlements. Thailand has confirmed that 11 of its citizens were taken.

Hundreds of people, including non-Israelis, are also still among the missing.