Israel pulls hundreds of citizens from Jordan amid virus fears
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Israel pulls hundreds of citizens from Jordan amid virus fears

Foreign Ministry arranges to bring 200 Arab students back to the country to self-quarantine

Screen capture from video of buses waiting to transport Arab Israeli students from Jordan back to the country, March 26, 2020. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of buses waiting to transport Arab Israeli students from Jordan back to the country, March 26, 2020. (Twitter)

Israel bused some 200 students back to the country from Jordan as part of its efforts to bring home as many citizens from abroad as possible during the global coronavirus pandemic, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The Arab Israeli students had been studying in the neighboring kingdom, which recently closed off most movement across its boundaries with Israel and the West Bank due to the spread of the virus.

“The operation was coordinated with Jordanian authorities who responded to an Israeli humanitarian request for all the students to return home,” the ministry said in a statement.

Buses picked up the students, who will be immediately quarantined for 14 days in specially designated hotels in accordance with Health Ministry orders.

The statement did not say via which of three border crossings with Jordan the students used to enter Israel.

Army Radio published footage of the buses waiting to collect the students.

The military’s Home Front Command is running several quarantine hotels as part of an effort to ease the load on the country’s hospitals as they deal with the rising number of patients diagnosed with the COVID-19 illness.

Up to 10,000 Israelis are currently abroad and want to come home, Israeli officials estimated earlier this week, amid growing concerns that the widening coronavirus pandemic may make their return exceedingly difficult or impossible.

Vowing to make every effort not to leave anyone behind, the government is currently working on organizing 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.

Last week, the ministry organized four flights from Lima, Peru, bringing home more than 1,000 Israelis on four El Al 787 Dreamliners. These flights — the longest ever by an Israeli airline — were free of charge for the stranded backpackers, as the costs were footed by various sponsors.

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