Palace: Gov’t to repatriate Filipinos affected by Israel-Palestine crisis should need arise

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 13)— The Philippine government said there are no active repatriation efforts yet for Filipinos caught in the growing conflict between Israel and Palestinian groups, but assured it will charter flights to bring them home should the situation call for it.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the guarantee in a Palace briefing on Thursday, as safety fears mount among Filipinos residing in and near the conflict areas.

Alam na po ng ating embahada doon kung anong mga posibleng mga pangyayari, so hinahanda na po ‘yung posibleng repatriation,” Roque said. “Ang gobyerno naman po natin kung talagang kakailanganin. Siyempre po susunduin natin ang ating kababayan at kung gusto talaga nila.”

[Translation: Our embassy there is ready for any eventuality, so it’s already preparing for possible repatriation. We can always rely on our government to do what is necessary. Of course, we’ll do our countrymen's bidding and if they really want to.]

The crisis alert for Filipinos in Israel remains at level 1, which means they are simply advised for now to take necessary precautions while the embassy monitors developments. The Department of Foreign Affairs assured contingency plans are in place for when tensions further escalate.

READ: Tensions between Israel and Palestinians are sky-high. Here's what you need to know

“The general situation of Filipinos is that they have access to safe areas and shelters,” DFA executive director for strategic communications Ivy Banzon-Abalos told CNN Philippines.

The DFA added that it has not received any report of Filipino casualties since the crisis started this week.

Government data show there are nearly 30,000 Filipinos living in Israel as of June 2020. In an advisory issued earlier this week, the embassy urged them to exercise caution and to refrain from going to areas near the Gaza border or to the West Bank (Bethlehem, Jericho, Hebron) and certain locations in Jerusalem. It also advised Filipinos to call the embassy hotline at +972.54.466.1188 in case of emergency.

Israel-Palestine relations have long been tense, but clashes have flared up this week, prompted by moves to evict Palestinian families from their homes near the Old City in Jerusalem.

Both sides have exchanged airstrikes and rocket attacks, with the United Nations warning the conflict could grow into a "full-scale war."

Citing figures from the Gaza-based Palestinian health ministry, CNN reported that Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza has so far killed at least 67 individuals, including 17 children, and injured nearly 400 more. Meanwhile, Israel has recorded at least seven fatalities among its people, with a six-year-old boy becoming the latest addition to the death toll.