Hamas attack on Israel: Operation Ajay bringing back first batch of 230 Indians; Air Force planes on standby

Amid reports of Hamas firing more rockets at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv today and Israel punishing Gaza with airstrikes and supply blockade, it has been reported that Operation Ajay of the Government of India would bring the first batch of 230 Indians back on October 13.

Footage released by the Israel Defense Forces shows soldiers taking a key base back from Hamas. Screenshot courtesy: X/@EretzIsrael

The evacuated Indians would be flown out on a charter flight, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) today. They are among the thousands of India who live and work in Israel.

“The first charter flight will reach Tel Aviv later tonight to pick up Indian citizens and is likely to return to India tomorrow morning,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi today, during a media briefing.

He said that around 18,000 Indians were currently residing in Israel, while about a dozen-odd people were in the West Bank and three-four were in Gaza.

“The external affairs minister took a preparatory meeting earlier in the day. We are in touch with our embassy in Tel Aviv, our representative office in Ramallah as well as with our missions in the neighbouring countries, particularly Jordan, Syria, and Egypt,” said Bagchi. “We are keeping a close watch on developments as well as what steps we need to take to assist the Indian citizens who are in Israel.”

The MEA spokesperson said that the first charter flight was likely to bring around 230 citizens back. Asked about reports of one Indian caregiver from Kerala sustaining injuries in the attacks by Hamas, he said, “We are aware of that case. The person is in the hospital and improving.”

Bagchi said that more chartered flights would be arranged to evacuate the Indians. At the same time, he added, any rescue would depend on the number of people expressing a desire to return home. He said there was no report of any Indian casualty so far.

Military officials said that the Indian Air Force had kept its transport aircraft on standby for any possible deployment to bring back the Indians from Israel.

The multi-pronged attacks against Israel by Hamas militants from Gaza and the subsequent Israeli retaliation have left around 2,600 people dead. Israel has launched a massive counter-offensive in Gaza to avenge the attacks by Hamas.

The massive spike in hostilities between Israel and Palestine has triggered global concerns. Leading powers like Germany, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom emphasised on the importance of preventing the situation from further escalation.