Operation Ajay: First batch of 212 Indians from Israel reaches Delhi, evacuees thank Modi government
'Operation Ajay' successfully repatriated 212 Indians stranded in Israel due to the ongoing conflict. Passengers were selected based on a "first come, first served" registration drive organized by the Indian embassy, with the government covering their return expenses.
The inaugural flight of 'Operation Ajay,' which carried 212 Indian nationals stranded in Israel due to the ongoing conflict, touched down in New Delhi today. Passengers were selected on a "first come, first served" basis following a registration drive initiated by the Indian embassy, with the government covering the expenses for their return. Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar received the rescued individuals at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
This flight was organized to facilitate the return of those unable to do so because Air India suspended its operations on the day the fighting commenced on October 7, and its commercial flights remain grounded.
Expressing their gratitude, Shubham Kumar, a student in Israel, shared, "We are thankful to India. Most of the students were somewhat panicked. Suddenly, we received notifications and links for every Indian citizen via the Embassy of India, which boosted our morale. We felt connected to the Embassy of India, which was a great relief. Then, all the necessary arrangements were made."
Another passengers shared, "This is the first time we've encountered such a situation over there. We're immensely thankful to the Indian government, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for facilitating our return. We are eager for peace to be restored swiftly, enabling us to resume our work as soon as possible."
Yet another passenger, holding a baby, recounted the situation in Israel and how Indian returnees felt a sense of relief upon returning to India. She described the initial fear and need to take shelter during air raid sirens but expressed their newfound relaxation, saying, "We are feeling relaxed and we thank the Government of India."
The selection of passengers was based on a "first come, first served" basis, following a registration drive initiated by the Indian embassy, with the government covering the expenses for their return.
The flight, departing at 10:14 pm local time, was organized to facilitate the return of those unable to do so because Air India had immediately suspended its flights on October 7 when the conflict began. The commercial operations of Air India remain suspended at this time.
This operation was a response to multi-pronged attacks against Israel by Hamas from Gaza since Saturday and the subsequent Israeli retaliation, resulting in more than 2,500 casualties. Israel initiated a significant counter-offensive in Gaza in response to the attacks by Hamas.
A significant number of Indians, including students, are still awaiting their turn at the Tel Aviv airport to board the special flight operated under 'Operation Ajay.'
Israel has pledged an unprecedented offensive against the Hamas group in the Gaza Strip after its fighters breached the border and infiltrated Israel through various means on October 7. With around 300,000 military personnel positioned outside Gaza, Israel has indicated the likelihood of a major ground operation as it aims to eliminate the militant group responsible for an attack that has claimed the lives of at least 1,200 people.