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'Operation Ajay': 2nd batch of Indians gather to board flight, thank govt for initiative

The passengers were mainly those who are staying and working in Israel.

Operation Ajay: 2nd batch of Indians gather to board flight, thank govt for initiative

Indian passengers gathered at Tel Aviv airport in Israel (ANI)

TEL AVIV: The second batch of Indian passengers gathered at the Tel Aviv airport to board the chartered flight to India under 'Operation Ajay' launched amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

The passengers were mainly those who are staying and working in Israel.

They applauded the government of India for the initiative and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian passenger Ashish Kumar said, "I am going to India. Here, I am a post-doctoral student, Agriculture Research Organisation. The situation in central Israel is quite normal, not like the Gaza border, Beersheba and nearby regions".

"I think this is a very good initiative of the Indian government. I had seen only European countries evacuating their citizens. So, I appreciate the government for this," he added.

Wagesh Dwiwedi, another passenger also appreciated the initiative and recalled the tenure of former Minister Sushma Swaraj.

"I work as a visiting scientist at ARO. The situation is tense here because of the bombarding, and it will get even more serious. So, that's why we are leaving. Everyone is scared at home. Operation Ajay is a very positive step and I really appreciate it. The government has been carrying out such missions since the time of Sushma Swaraj," he said.

The Indian passengers appreciated the Indian government and thanked the government for the initiative and recalled a similar initiative carried out during the Russia-Ukraine war.

"I am a post-doctoral fellow at ARO. We are being evacuated because of the tense situation here. The family members were also concerned regarding us. We would like to thank PM Modi and EAM Jaishankar for Operation Ajay. This is a good initiative taking place smoothly," a passenger named Alkesh Hada said.

"We received a message from the government of India that those who want to leave can evacuate. Operation Ajay is a very positive initiative by the government. They have done this before as well, during the Russia-Ukraine war. The first batch was evacuated yesterday, and now the second batch is leaving," another passenger named Pankaj Tripathi stated.

Earlier in the day, the first flight under Operation Ajay carrying 212 Indian passengers landed in Delhi.

Those who were being repatriated after being stranded in Israel thanked the Indian government for bringing them back. Chants of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' were also seen by the passengers on the first flight, according to a video shared by a passenger.

Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar was present at the airport to welcome them.

He greeted the returning Indians and interacted with the students.

The Union Minister reassured the passengers, saying India's commitment to the safety of every Indian is unwavering, adding that PM Modi is determined to protect them.

Earlier on Thursday, Indian Ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Singla said that the Indian Embassy in Israel is working to ensure the well-being of Indian nationals in war-torn Israel and informed that under "Operation Ajay" the embassy will help Indians who want to return to India.

'Operation Ajay' was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring back around 18,000 Indians in Israel. Registration of Indians began on Thursday.

The Indian embassy in Israel is providing assistance to Indian companies and has set up a helpline for Indian citizens in need of assistance. The MEA had set up a 24-hour control room in view of the escalating conflict.

The control room will help monitor the situation and provide information and assistance. Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs V Muraleedharan also visited the 24/7 control room set up in New Delhi as part of Operation Ajay. He said India continues to monitor the situation in Israel and provide necessary information and assistance.

He further said the government is always committed to the safety of Indians abroad.

Earlier, the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar chaired a meeting to review preparations for 'Operation Ajay'.

As the Israel-Hamas conflict entered the seventh day, the Israel Defence Forces called for an immediate evacuation of Gaza. The conflict erupted after the terror group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, and a barrage of rockets stormed into Israel.

Earlier in the day, security alarms were sounded in Tel Aviv and Gush Dan, after which people ran to the bomb shelter.

"Sirens sounding in Tel Aviv," the Israel Defence Force posted on X.

Israeli Defence Forces spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said that the death toll from the Hamas terror attacks on Israel has jumped to 1,300 and more than 3000 have been injured.

He also touched on the ongoing efforts to collect the bodies and bring them to Tel Aviv for identification before handing them over to their loved ones.

Calling it a "tedious and detailed process", he noted that Israel has never in history faced such a situation.

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