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India striving to bring back students stuck in Israel: MoS MEA

New Delhi: Minister of State (Mos) External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi said on Sunday that efforts are on to bring back its students stuck in Israel in the wake of a terrorist attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

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Stating that she received many messages last night about Indians in Israel, she told reporters that the Prime Minister’s office is directly supervising the situation.

“Indian government is striving to bring back stranded students of India from Israel. Prime Minister and his office are monitoring the situation and huge efforts are underway to get back our students who are stuck in that country,” she said.

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She added that the government has successfully evacuated its nationals abroad in the face of crisis time and again.

“Whether it was Operation Ganga or Vande Bharat, we brought everyone back and I am sure the government and the Prime Minister’s Office are directly in touch with those people and are working and monitoring the situation,” she said.

Her comments came after several Indian students in Israel were quoted as saying in media reports that they were scared in the aftermath of the attack.

In addition to the Indian students and nationals, 27 people from Meghalaya, who travelled to Jerusalem for pilgrimage, are stuck in Bethlehem.

Sharing the information, Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma wrote on X: “27 citizens of Meghalaya who travelled for the Holy Pilgrimage to Jerusalem are stuck in Bethlehem due to the tension between Israel and Palestine”.

“I am in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs to ensure their safe passage back home,” Sangma said.

Earlier today, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan urged the Indians stranded in Israel to stay safe and contact the Indian embassy in case of assistance.

There are approximately 18,000 Indian citizens in Israel, mostly caregivers employed by Israeli elders, diamond traders, IT professionals, and students, according to the Indian Embassy’s website.

In May 2021, 32-year-old Soumya Santhosh from Kerala, employed as a caregiver in Israel, was killed in Gaza shelling while she was on a video call with her husband.

Hamas on Saturday declared a new military operation against Israel and in a ‘surprise attack’ fired a barrage of missiles towards the Jewish state from the Gaza Strip for the first time since May last year.

In the attack, around 300 Israeli citizens lost their lives while more than 1,000 have been injured. In retaliation, Israeli retaliation killed 230 Palestinians and injured more than 1,500.

Hamas reportedly fired as many as 5,000 rockets, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking a pledge to reduce the group’s Gaza hideouts to “rubble”.

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