Israel evacuates families of diplomats from Russia, African countries
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Israel evacuates families of diplomats from Russia, African countries

Foreign Ministry says only those who want to come are being brought home; diplomats themselves are staying; report says Spain may be next

Russian police guard in front of the Israeli embassy in Moscow on September 18, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOV)
Russian police guard in front of the Israeli embassy in Moscow on September 18, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOV)

The Foreign Ministry is evacuating the families of Israeli diplomats from Russia and several other countries, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Thursday.

“There is an approval for the evacuation of diplomats’ relatives — not the diplomats themselves — if they choose to, from several countries including Russia,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat told The Times of Israel.

He was confirming a report by Army Radio that said the families had already been returned to Israel from Russia and several unspecified African states.

The report noted the recent rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia, as well as widespread suspicions that Moscow has been severely under-reporting the scope of the outbreak there.

The report said Israel was also preparing to return diplomats’ families from Spain.

Hundreds of Israelis backpackers aboard an El Al Dreamlimer taking them from Lima, Peru, to Tel Aviv, March 2020 (Sivan Farage)

Israel has already evacuated families of diplomats from other countries such as Italy and Azerbaijan, and has only left a handful of workers in China and South Korea.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials estimate that in total, up to 10,000 Israelis are currently abroad and want to come home, amid growing concerns that the widening coronavirus pandemic may make their return exceedingly difficult or impossible.

Vowing to make every possible effort not to leave anyone behind, the government is currently working on arranging about a dozen flights from various destinations across the globe. At the same time, diplomats are warning tourists that more and more countries are rapidly closing their airspace.

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