Travel to Israel postponed 'indefinitely'; 7 Filipinos missing

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

October 9, 2023, 8:42 pm

<p>Photo courtesy of Anadolu Agency</p>

Photo courtesy of Anadolu Agency

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said travel to Israel is postponed "indefinitely" as the war between Israeli forces and the Hamas group enters its third day.

The postponement of all travel from the Philippines to Israel, the department said, is due to "volatile security" there and will remain "until such time that the situation has stabilized".

In its latest statement sent past 6 p.m., the DFA said the number of Filipinos missing since the conflict started also rose from six to seven.

"Seven remain unaccounted for and cannot be contacted via their mobile numbers and social media accounts," DFA Spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said.

"The Philippine Embassy (in Israel) is working non-stop with Israeli security authorities and community contacts to ascertain their condition. We continue to await feedback from them," she added.

One of those missing is a Filipino male whose wife earlier reached out to the Philippines Embassy in Israel and said that she recognized him in a video circulating on social media which shows a man being held by armed individuals.

"(The Embassy) cannot independently verify his identity based on the video alone but considers the report of the wife as compelling. The Embassy is also working with community contacts on his case," Daza said.

Daza said there were an initial 29 Filipinos reported missing but 22 have already been rescued by Israeli security forces, transferred to a safer area, and are now housed in hotels.

READ: 2 Filipinos hurt in Israel-Hamas conflict: diplomat 

"Of the 22, one is being treated at a hospital for moderate injuries sustained during the rescue. One was initially treated for smoke inhalation and was released after treatment and is now resting in a hotel in Tel Aviv," she said.

As of this posting, no Filipino has requested for immediate repatriation but the DFA said a plan is in place and the Embassy is ready to implement it if needed.

25 Filipinos in Gaza want to be repatriated

Meanwhile, the DFA said 25 Filipinos have requested to be evacuated from Gaza amid the intense war between Israel and the Hamas group.

“The Philippine Embassy in Amman, Jordan has received requests for repatriation from Filipinos in Gaza. (The) numbers may change as some are still undecided,” Daza said in a separate statement.

She said the 25 are those who have initially signified their intention to leave Gaza.

There are a total of 137 Filipinos in Gaza based on the latest data from the Philippine Embassy in Jordan, which has jurisdiction over Gaza.

On Oct. 8, the Embassy activated its Emergency Management Team (EMT) as it cited the "mounting violence and criminality" in the area.

“We reiterate our reminder for Filipinos in Gaza to continue undertaking safety measures and take shelter in the nearest available protected area due to the increasing violence that threatens their security,” Philippine Ambassador to Jordan Wilfredo Santos said.

Filipinos who may require assistance are requested to contact the Embassy at ATN Hotlines: +962-7-7907-7775 and 7-7907-7778.

Israel declared a state of war and bombarded Gaza after the Hamas group mounted a surprise attack last Saturday. (PNA)