Operation Ajay: First Flight Brings 212 Indians Home from Israel
The first flight under Operation Ajay has successfully repatriated 212 Indian nationals from Israel. This charter flight, organized by the Indian government, arrived at Delhi airport, bringing relief and hope to those who had found themselves stranded in Israel amidst escalating tensions. Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekar, representing the Indian government, was present at the airport to welcome and receive the returnees.
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Operation Ajay was initiated in response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, a militant group based in Gaza, Palestine. This conflict, which began with multi-pronged attacks against Israel by Hamas, prompted Israeli retaliation, resulting in over 2,500 casualties. As the situation deteriorated, the Indian government took swift action to ensure the safe return of its citizens from the affected region.
First flight carrying 212 Indian nationals from Israel, lands at Delhi airport— C R Paatil (@CRPaatil) October 13, 2023
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, recognizing the urgency of the situation, announced the launch of Operation Ajay. The operation aimed to facilitate the return of Indian nationals who wished to come back to their homeland, thereby ensuring their safety and well-being in the face of the crisis. This move demonstrated the government’s commitment to the welfare of its citizens abroad, a point stressed by Jaishankar himself.
The operation was well-received by Indian nationals in Israel, who expressed their gratitude to the Indian government for taking proactive measures to ensure their safe return. One passenger shared, “This is the first time that we are facing this situation over there. We are very thankful to the Indian government, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing us back. We are hoping for peace as soon as possible so that we can go back to work as soon as possible.”
Another passenger, who had experienced the tense situation in Israel firsthand, narrated the anxiety they had faced, saying, “On the first day, we were sleeping, and at around 6.30, there was a siren. We ran towards the shelter, and it was very hard, but we managed. We are feeling relaxed and we thank the Government of India.”
The process of selecting passengers for the charter flight followed a “first come, first serve” basis. The Indian embassy in Israel had launched a registration drive, encouraging all Indian nationals in the region to register their details in the embassy’s database. This approach ensured that those most in need of repatriation were given priority, with the Indian government bearing the cost of their return.
The urgency of the situation was underscored by the suspension of commercial operations by Air India, which had suspended its flights on the very day the conflict began on October 7. As a result, Operation Ajay was instrumental in facilitating the return of those who had been left stranded due to the suspension of regular flight services.
The successful charter flight, which took off at 10:14 pm (local time) from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, marked a crucial milestone for Operation Ajay. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar shared the news with the public, stating, “Operation Ajay gets underway. 212 citizens onboard the flight are en route to New Delhi.”
At the airport in Tel Aviv, there was a visible queue of Indian nationals, including students, waiting to board the special flight organized under ‘Operation Ajay.’ The initiative by the Indian government to evacuate its citizens from a conflict zone garnered significant support from those in need.
This first charter flight under Operation Ajay was a testament to the Indian government’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its nationals abroad. It was a swift and proactive response to a rapidly deteriorating situation, providing relief and hope to those who had been living amidst conflict and uncertainty in Israel.
The Indian embassy in Israel also announced plans for a second flight on the horizon. They initiated email registrations on a “first come, first serve” basis, ensuring that more Indian nationals would have the opportunity to return home safely.
The successful repatriation of 212 Indian nationals from Israel marked the beginning of Operation Ajay, showcasing the Indian government’s dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens in times of crisis. The operation provided hope and relief to those who had been stranded in Israel due to the escalating conflict, emphasizing the importance of swift and proactive government intervention in times of crisis. The Indian government’s commitment to the safety and welfare of its citizens abroad was evident in this operation, and it is set to continue with the upcoming second flight for more Indian nationals in need.