On Wednesday, India launched "Operation Ajay" to ensure the safe return of Indians stuck in Israel. As per the External Affairs Ministry, there are around 18,000 Indians in Israel. Indians in Israel are primary caregivers employed by Israeli elders to take care of them, diamond traders, I.T. professionals, and students.
Operation Ajay was launched after Air India and other airlines suspended all its commercial operations to and from Israel as the war began on October 7. The Indian government is bearing the flight cost of those who returned.
"Launching #OperationAjay to facilitate the return from Israel of our citizens who wish to return. Special charter flights and other arrangements are being put in place. Fully committed to the safety and well-being of our nationals abroad," Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said in a post on X.
"The Embassy has emailed the first lot of registered Indian citizens for the special flight tomorrow. Messages to other registered people will follow for subsequent flights," the post read.
The first batch of Indians who registered to return got the notification via email. The first flight of Operation Ajay - carrying 212 Indian passengers including an infant took off from the Ben Gurion airport in Israel on Thursday night, the country's embassy in Israel said in a post on X.
The flight arrived in New Delhi on Friday morning. In a video shared by news agency ANI, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekar was present at the airport to receive the Indian nationals. According to reports, the passengers were chosen on a "first come, first serve" basis.
"We are thankful to India. Most of the students were a little bit panicked. Suddenly, we saw some notifications and links for every Indian citizen through the embassy of India, which boosted our morale. We felt like the embassy of India was 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 (Press Trust of India).
The Ministry of External Affairs has set up a round-the-clock control room in New Delhi. There is also a separate emergency helpline to monitor the situation in the war-torn regions and provide information and assistance to the Indian citizens.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has assured that it will assist the Indian embassy in Operation Ajay. Kobbi Shoshani, Consul General of Israel in Mumbai said, "There are around 18,000 Indian citizens in Israel, including 1,000 students whom we love very much. The Indian business community, whom we love and respect very much, contributes to our economy in a big way.
The war between Israel and Hamas entered its seventh day on Friday. As per the latest reports, over 2800 people have lost their lives on both sides. Around 423,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.
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