Home Headlines Mexico evacuates more than 270 citizens from the Israeli-Gaza War

Mexico evacuates more than 270 citizens from the Israeli-Gaza War

by Yucatan Times
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Hundreds of Mexicans trapped in the middle of the war between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas are on their way back home. The two humanitarian flights organized by the Mexican Government departed this Tuesday from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for Mexico.

The first flight carried 130 passengers and the second, which took off a few hours later, carried another 141 passengers, according to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alicia Bárcena. More than 500 nationals, most of them tourists, made requests for support to the Foreign Ministry and during the week there was talk of around 300 who asked to be evacuated from Israel and the Palestinian territories after the outbreak of war on October 7.

“Finally, we are going home, we are very excited and happy,” said the members of the Mexican Rhythmic Gymnastics team, who were stranded while preparing for the Pan American Games. After three days of uncertainty, the government has released several testimonies in appreciation of the effort to send military aircraft, in the face of the massive cancellation of flights and the fear of war. “We will continue to provide all the protection and support required by the Mexican community in Israel,” said the ambassador to Israel, Mauricio Escanero.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a communiqué that priority support would be given to people in vulnerable situations due to the armed conflict: children and adolescents; injured or sick people; pregnant women; indigenous people; and temporary agricultural workers. The proximity to the conflict zone was also used as a criterion.

Both flights followed the same route. They departed from Felipe Angeles International Airport for Gander, Newfoundland Island, Canada. They then headed to Shannon in Ireland and made a final stop in Turkish territory before approaching Israel. They are scheduled to make the same stops on their return to Mexico. It’s a similar route to the one taken by humanitarian flights for the repatriation of Mexicans following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year.

“Let’s be clear. Mexico advocates peace, dialogue and the protection of civilians without nuance,” Bárcena said. Her statements came after Israel expressed its “inconformity” to comments made on Monday by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and demanded a stronger condemnation of terrorism.

“As history has repeatedly taught us, maintaining a neutral position instead of taking sides ultimately implies endorsing and supporting terrorism,” the diplomatic representation reproached. The Israeli Embassy’s reproach argues that it has not been blunt enough in denouncing Hamas. “We urge an end to indiscriminate attacks and violence against civilians by Hamas and by the Israeli army in Gaza,” Barcena added.

López Obrador responded in his morning conference that Israel “is within its rights” to disagree, but refused to change the position established by his government, which is bound by the foreign policy principles that Mexico has traditionally defended. “We respect the Government of Israel, and even more the people of Israel, but we do not want war, we do not want violence, we are pacifists and we do not want any human being of any nationality to lose their lives”, said the President.

The president said he would not enter into controversy because the Mexican Constitution, which upholds the principles of non-intervention and peaceful settlement of disputes, does not allow him to take sides in the conflict. The exchange of diplomatic communications is the latest link in a surly chain with Israel, particularly over the extradition request of ex-diplomat Andrés Roemer and Tomás Zerón, accused of torture in the investigations into the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa normalistas in 2014. The Israeli Embassy said the extradition of Roemer, arrested last week on rape charges, would not be hindered, despite the armed conflict.

Mexico has just over 5,000 citizens in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Since last weekend, authorities announced that two Mexicans had been taken hostage by Hamas. They are Ilana Gritzewsky, who has been living in that country for years, and Orion Hernandez, who went to a concert in Palestine with his girlfriend. The Foreign Ministry has indicated that it is in permanent communication with their families. David Heiblum, another national who was missing, is safe with his wife, a Panamanian citizen.

Mexico is not the only Latin American country in turmoil. Argentina, home to the largest Jewish community in the region, mourned the death of four citizens and reported the disappearance of four others. Brazil announced that it was sending at least 15 flights to repatriate those stranded and the search for missing persons is spreading throughout the continent.

TYT Newsroom

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