Countries work to evacuate their citizens from Israel as war rages with Hamas

From Argentina to South Korea, Brazil and Nigeria, airlifts organized to take foreign nationals home; Portugal flies 152 citizens, 8 Cypriots to Larnaca

A plane carrying Brazilian citizens fleeing the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group arrives at the Brazilian military airbase Galeo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 11, 2023. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP)
A plane carrying Brazilian citizens fleeing the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group arrives at the Brazilian military airbase Galeo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 11, 2023. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP)

Thousands of foreigners have found themselves stuck in Israel and across the West Bank and Gaza, where a full-blown war has erupted since Hamas terrorists launched their devastating onslaught on Saturday.

With the violence having already claimed thousands of lives on both sides, several countries have launched operations to repatriate their citizens, while others plan to do so in the coming days.

Here is an overview of ongoing and planned evacuations, according to official sources.


Argentina, the Latin American country with the largest Jewish population, on Tuesday started evacuating more than 1,200 of its citizens from Israel.

Three air force flights a day will take the 1,246 Argentines who have asked to be evacuated to the Italian capital Rome, Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Taiana said.

Brazilian citizens fleeing the conflict between Israel and Hamas arrive at the Brazilian military airbase Galeo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 11, 2023. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP)

From there, state-owned airline Aerolineas Argentinas will fly them to Buenos Aires.


Brazil’s government plans to mobilize at least six planes in a bid to rapidly repatriate any of its citizens who wish to leave Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

It said that about 14,000 Brazilians live in Israel and 6,000 live in the West Bank and Gaza. Some had already left on commercial flights, it said.


Nigeria has airlifted more than 300 of its citizens back home after they fled to Jordan from Israel, where they were on a Christian pilgrimage, the Lagos state government said.

The group was traveling from Bethlehem to Nazareth when they heard news of the attack in the south of Israel.

With the war erupting, the group and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims’ Commission organized for them to travel by road to Jordan and then take a chartered flight to Lagos.


Swiss International Air Lines repatriated 220 Swiss nationals on Tuesday.

A second special flight with a capacity of 215 seats is planned for Wednesday, as requested by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

A third flight is scheduled for Thursday, expected to land in Tel Aviv in the afternoon, also with a capacity of 215 seats.

Around 28,000 Swiss citizens and their families are officially registered as living in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.


Spain organized a flight from Tel Aviv overnight to Wednesday with 200 people on board, its foreign ministry said.

South Korea

A flight carrying 192 South Korean citizens took off from Tel Aviv and landed at the Incheon International Airport near Seoul early Wednesday, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

Another 30 South Korean nationals will be evacuated later in the week by commercial flights, it said, adding that 27 others, who were in Israel on a Christian pilgrimage, will go by road to neighboring Jordan.

A man holds an Israeli flag as Brazilian citizens fleeing the war between Israel and Hamas disembark from a military aircraft at Brasília Air Base on the first Brazilian government rescue flight from Tel Aviv, October 11, 2023.(EVARISTO SA/AFP)


The Canadian government said it would organize special flights from Tel Aviv later in the week for Canadian nationals, with help from the Canadian military.


French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna announced on Tuesday that her ministry’s crisis unit was organizing a special Air France flight from Tel Aviv on Thursday to help repatriate any French nationals who have been unable to leave.


Germany said it was working with Lufthansa to organize “several special flights” on Thursday and Friday to repatriate German citizens.

“Around 4,500 German citizens” have registered on a list seeking help to return home, a German Foreign Ministry source said.


The Iceland government announced it will send a plane to repatriate around 120 of its nationals stuck in Israel.


Norway has organized a flight for Wednesday evening for its citizens stuck in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. There are around 500 Norwegian nationals in the region.


Finland says it will organize the repatriation of its nationals from the region.

Portugal airlifts 160 nationals to Cyprus from Israel

Cyprus has received 160 foreign nationals airlifted to the island from Israel on a Portuguese military transport plane, with Austria also permitted to operate rescue flights, officials said Wednesday.

Portugal has undertaken three flights from Tel Aviv to Larnaca Airport with a C-130 military transport aircraft to carry their nationals trapped in Israel.

One flight landed Tuesday night, while another two were conducted on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Theodoros Gotsis told the Cyprus News Agency.

He said the aircraft transferred mainly Portuguese nationals from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to Larnaca. Gotsis confirmed that eight Cypriots and a few third-country nationals were also on board.

He confirmed that Austria also submitted a similar request to use Cyprus as a transit station, and its military aircraft will depart on Wednesday night.

The rescue flights came after Cyprus offered its services Tuesday as a safe transfer hub for evacuating foreign nationals from nearby Israel after the Hamas terrorist onslaught on the weekend.

Portuguese citizens hug their family members upon their arrival from Israel at Lisbon airport on October 11, 2023. (Patricia DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP)

Nicosia says there are still a small number of Cypriots in Israel waiting to return home.

“The majority of Cypriots still in Israel have tickets booked on commercial flights, but, if necessary, authorities will arrange for them an alternative route back home,” said Gotsis.

European Union member Cyprus has facilitated mass evacuations of foreigners from Lebanon and Sudan in the past.

In 2006, the Mediterranean island welcomed tens of thousands of foreigners evacuated from Lebanon during that year’s devastating war between Israel and Shiite terror group Hezbollah.

In April and May this year, after fierce fighting erupted between rival security forces in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, Cyprus was a hub for evacuating thousands of foreign nationals in an 11-day airlift.

Palestinian terrorists rampaged through the south of Israel on Saturday morning, killing some 1,000 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and taking at least 100 captives to Gaza. Since then the Israeli toll has risen to over 1,200 dead and thousands of injured.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 1,055 in the Palestinian enclave have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes. Israel says it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides out. Jerusalem has also said its forces have killed some 1,500 Hamas terrorists who infiltrated into its territory since Saturday.

There have also been several deadly clashes on the northern border in recent days, some of them claimed by Palestinian terror groups operating out of Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon, and others by Hezbollah themselves.

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