'Indian nationals in Israel and Gaza safe,' claim officials

There are about 18,000 Indian nationals living and working in Israel and so far there have been no untoward incidents reported involving them, informed sources told PTI.
Israelis inspect the rubble of a building a day after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo | AP)
Israelis inspect the rubble of a building a day after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo | AP)

JERUSALEM: There have been no untoward incidents involving Indians living and working in Israel so far amid escalating tensions in the region, even as the Indian embassy in Tel Aviv received requests from its citizens, including tourists, stranded in the country to facilitate their safe exit.

Israel witnessed a surprise and unprecedented multifront attack -- by air, land, and sea -- by the Hamas militant group, which rules the Gaza Strip, in its southern parts on Saturday morning.

At least 350 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed and more than 1,900 injured in Israel - the deadliest day for the country in at least 50 years.

In the Gaza Strip, there are nearly 300 deaths and about 1,500 wounded in Israel's counterattack, media reports said on Sunday.

There are about 18,000 Indian nationals living and working in Israel and so far there have been no untoward incidents reported involving them, informed sources told PTI.

The Indian embassy has received requests from Indian tourists stranded in the country to facilitate their exit. Most of the tourists are travelling in groups. There are also some businessmen visiting Israel who have gotten caught up in the escalation and are looking to be evacuated.

The Indian mission in Tel Aviv and the Representative Office of India in Palestine on Saturday issued advisories asking Indian nationals on respective sides to "remain vigilant" and "directly contact the Office" in case of an emergency.

Embassy sources told PTI that they are readily available to all Indian nationals around the clock and have been proactively guiding them.

A big chunk of Indians living in Israel work as caregivers but there are also about a thousand students, several IT professionals and diamond traders.

Bindu, a doctoral student at Hebrew University, told PTI that she "followed the instructions in letter and spirit throughout the day" on Saturday and felt safe.

She said that all Indian students are in touch with each other and are constantly taking stock of the situation.

Some other students, when contacted, also said that they see the situation coming under control and "we should not spread panic unnecessarily".

Vikas Sharma, a postdoctoral fellow at the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University said that "there is a tense situation in Israel because of the attack, but all the Indian students are safe. Most of the students are staying in dorms and accommodations provided by the institutions. We are in contact with each other as well as the Indian embassy through WhatsApp."

Caregivers in Israel also are inclined towards staying put and focusing on following the instructions of the Home Front through the link shared by the Indian mission.

Elle Prasad, who lives in Ashkelon where the maximum number of rockets have fallen, said that "they have to be very alert so that they reach the shelter house as soon as possible after the siren wails".

Another caregiver, Vivek, said that the situation was worrisome but they are all okay and in constant touch with the embassy.

An Indian national living in Gaza, when contacted, said that the situation was "scary" but she and her family were safe.

"There is no internet connection and electricity. The situation is scary but we are fine," she told PTI.

"In view of the current situation in Israel, all Indian nationals in Israel are requested to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities. Please exercise caution, avoid unnecessary movement, and stay close to safety shelters," the Embassy said in its advisory.

The advisory gave relevant phone numbers in case of emergency and also provided URLs for Israeli Home Front Command and Preparedness brochures.

The advisory was issued in English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada languages.

On Sunday, Israel continued to carry out attacks on Gaza but some infiltrators holed up in the southern parts of Israel continued to be engaged in firefights with Israeli soldiers.

Minor escalation was reported on Israel's northern border with Lebanon during the morning hours but soon seemed to have calmed down.

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