Plans are being readied to evacuate to Jordan more than a hundred Filipinos in the Gaza Strip as Israel’s military operations against Hamas targets continue.
Vice President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Noli de Castro said yesterday he had received a report from Philippine Ambassador to Tel Aviv Petronila Garcia that the Israeli government had allowed the evacuation to Jordan of Filipinos caught in the crossfire in Gaza.
In her report, Garcia said the 21 Filipino families or roughly 120 Filipinos living in Gaza are generally safe and in good condition.
But Garcia said the violence in the area has left Filipinos terrified.
“The plan to extract them from the danger zone is already in the works. The Israeli government already allowed evacuation of the Filipinos caught in the crossfire and they will be transferred to Jordan,” De Castro pointed out.
Garcia also informed De Castro that the planned evacuation may be tomorrow or early next week.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Claro Cristobal earlier said there were no reports of Filipino casualties in the violence.
On Saturday, Israel launched massive air strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
On Monday, Israel’s Ambassador to Manila Zvi Vapni justified Israel’s Gaza Strip operations, saying they were intended to stop Hamas’ terrorism.
“By fighting Hamas we are on the frontline of the fight against extreme Islamic terror. Such organizations are trying all the time to enlarge their ability and add more hate, death and destruction, while inflicting pain and suffering on civilians, including their own,” Vapni said in a letter to The STAR.
No Pinoy among Bangkok casualties
There was no Filipino among the casualties in the fire that razed an upscale club in Bangkok on New Year’s Eve, De Castro said.
De Castro said he received an update on the deadly fire and on the situation of Filipinos from Philippine Ambassador to Thailand Antonio Rodriguez. The fire left 62 dead and more than a hundred injured.
“So far no Filipino was reported hurt in Bangkok’s disco blaze,” the report said.
Rodriguez said in his report that out of 61 bodies, 28 have been identified. Of the 28, one was a foreigner.
Thai investigators said the blaze could have been sparked by fireworks for the New Year countdown display or by firecrackers brought in by guests.
Survivors said they were able to flee the inferno through the club’s main door.–Pia Lee-Brago, Philippine Star