The first flight under ‘Operation Ajay’ carrying 212 Indians who were stranded in Israel due to the ongoing war, landed in New Delhi today.
The passengers were chosen on a “first come first serve” basis after a drive launched by the Indian embassy for all Indians to register at the mission’s database. The government is bearing the cost of their return.
Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar was present at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at the national capital to receive those who were rescued.
Welcome to the homeland!
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) October 13, 2023
This flight was arranged to facilitate the return of those who were unable to do so because Air India had immediately suspended its flight on the day fighting began on October 7, and its commercial operation remains suspended till now.
“We are thankful to India… Most of the students were a little bit panicked. Suddenly we saw some notification and the links for every Indian citizen through the embassy of India which boosted our morale. We felt like the embassy of India is connected with us which was a kind of relief to us. And then we got all the arrangements,” Shubham Kumar, a student in Israel, told news agency PTI.
There is still a long queue of Indians, including students, at the Tel Aviv airport to board the special flight operated under ‘Operation Ajay’.
Israel has vowed an unprecedented offensive against the Hamas group in Gaza Strip after its fighters broke through the border fence and stormed into the country’s south through air, land and sea on October 7.
Israel’s military has positioned about 300,000 personnel outside Gaza and signalled a major ground offensive could be coming soon as it seeks to “wipe out” the militant group for an attack that killed at least 1,200 people.
In Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, at least 1,417 people, including women and children, have been killed, according to authorities there.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi sought international humanitarian assistance for Gaza and called on Gazans to remain on their land.