First flight of Operation ‘Ajay’ lands in Delhi with 212 stranded Indians from Israel

| Updated: 13 October, 2023 3:15 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Amid the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, a chartered flight carrying the initial batch of stranded Indian citizens in Israel has arrived in Delhi this morning. Departing from Ben Gurion airport in Israel on Thursday night, the flight, operating under ‘Operation Ajay,’ brought back 212 passengers.

A video circulating on social media platform X captured the emotional moment as the passengers disembarked, raising slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram.’

Expressing gratitude, the repatriated Indians thanked the government upon their arrival, sharing their harrowing experiences during the crisis. One passenger shared about the unprecedented situation they faced and expressed profound thanks to the Indian government, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for their safe return. “We are hoping for peace as soon as possible so that we can go back to work as early as possible,” the passenger remarked.

Shashwat Singh, who was in Israel for the past four years, narrated the alarming experiences of waking up to air raid sirens, stating, “We woke up to sounds of air raids’ sirens. I don’t know what shape this conflict will take.”

A woman pursuing a PhD degree in Israel, accompanied by her husband and a 5-month-old son, shares about the decision to return to India, emphasising the safety concerns for her child. Recounting the chaos during a Hamas attack, she shared, “On the first day, there was a siren. For the two years we had been there, we had not experienced that much chaos. And with my son, it is hard. But we managed a shelter and were there for, I guess, two hours when we heard another siren.”

Operation Ajay, launched by the Centre on Wednesday, aims to repatriate stranded citizens from Israel amidst the conflict with Hamas. The suspension of commercial operations to and from Israel prompted this move, with special chartered flights facilitating the return of Indians. The government has also indicated that Indian Navy ships may be deployed if necessary. Notably, there are approximately 18,000 Indians in Israel, including students, professionals, and traders.

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