A first group of 80 people, out of almost 200 who told the Portuguese authorities that they wanted to leave Israel, are now in Larnaca, Cyprus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced today in a statement.
“The Portuguese repatriation operation is now underway, with the Portuguese Air Force’s C-130 aircraft having transported around 80 people from Tel Aviv to Larnaca,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.
Taking into account the Israeli authorities’ overflight permissions, “the next C-130 flight could take place tonight, transporting a new group of Portuguese to the Cypriot city,” the Portuguese diplomatic service added.
Subsequently, a TAP flight, chartered by the Portuguese state, will leave Larnaca this evening for Portugal and is expected to arrive in Lisbon this Wednesday, the ministry led by João Gomes Cravinho said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also warned in the statement that “the complex operating conditions in Israeli territory may require changes to flight plans”, which are being permanently communicated to the citizens signposted for this mission, which is being operationalised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence.
Portugal’s foreign minister said on Monday that around 190 Portuguese had expressed their intention to leave Israel and were prepared to use the repatriation flights organised by the government using a Portuguese Air Force (FAP) plane.
Speaking to RTP, João Gomes Cravinho explained that these repatriation flights will take place between Tel Aviv and Cyprus (Larnaca), using a FAP C-130 aircraft.
Later, a TAP flight, chartered by the Portuguese state, will bring these citizens from Cyprus to Lisbon.
Regarding the existence of Portuguese nationals or Portuguese descendants among the dead or hostages taken by Hamas, which launched an unprecedented offensive against Israel on Saturday, the head of Portuguese diplomacy said on Monday that he had no official confirmation.
“Information is circulating that we can’t confirm. The Israeli authorities can’t confirm a Portuguese woman in these circumstances. As long as we don’t have that information, we can’t say any more,” he emphasised.
Cravinho also said that he had no information about people having difficulties contacting the embassy to access repatriation flights.
“The embassy is closed on instructions from the ministry for security reasons. Contact is through the Consular Emergency Office,” he added.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had previously said that “the service at the Consular Emergency Office has been reinforced”, emphasising that “contacts should only be made to these numbers – +351217929714 / +351961706472 (regular telephone calls) or via email email@example.com”.
The minister also said that there are 3,000 Portuguese registered in Israel, “the vast majority of whom live there, have dual nationality and have not shown any interest” in travelling to Portugal.
The Islamist group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israeli territory on Saturday under the name of Operation “al-Aqsa Storm”, with the launch of thousands of rockets and the incursion of armed militiamen by land, sea and air.
In response to the surprise attack, Israel bombed several Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip from the air in an operation called “Iron Swords”.
The armed conflict has caused hundreds of deaths on both sides and thousands of injuries.
Source: Macau Business