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Operation Ajay: First Batch of Over 200 Indians Return Home from Israel

New Delhi, Oct 13. Operation Ajay: The first batch of about 200 Indians, including students, have returned to India from Israel on a chartered flight in the early hours of Friday.

India has initiated Operation Ajay to assist those who wish to come back home due to recent attacks on Israeli towns by Hamas militants, which have caused increased tension in the region.

Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar welcomed the passengers at Delhi airport as they entered the lounge area from the tarmac. He greeted them with folded hands and shook hands with many, saying, “Welcome home.”

Shashwat Singh, a post-doctoral researcher who has been living in Israel since 2019, arrived in Delhi with his wife.

“We woke up to the sound of air raid sirens. We live in central Israel. I don’t know how this conflict will unfold… I am doing postdoc in agriculture there,” he told PTI.

Soon after the flight landed, Singh praised the evacuation of Indians as a commendable step. “We hope peace will be restored and we can return to work… The Indian government contacted us via email. We are grateful to Prime Minister Modi and the Indian Embassy in Israel.”

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi stated on Thursday that there are currently around 18,000 Indians residing in Israel, while about a dozen in the West Bank and three to four in Gaza.

The series of attacks by Hamas militants from Gaza against Israel since Saturday, and the subsequent Israeli retaliation, have resulted in about 2,600 deaths. Israel has launched a large-scale counter-offensive in Gaza in response to the attacks by Hamas.

Suparno Ghosh, a first-year PhD student from West Bengal studying at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel, was among the Indians who arrived in Delhi on the special flight.

“We were in shelters… the Israeli government has established shelters everywhere, so we were safe,” he said.

Deepak, a student, shared, “We heard sirens on Saturday. As the attack occurred, we could hear the sound. Israeli authorities were instructing us to take safety measures. It was a continuous attack. I am happy to return home, but also sad because our friends are still there (in Israel),” he said.

However, the student reported that the evacuation process was very smooth.

Duti Banerjee, another individual from West Bengal who was part of the first group of Indians evacuated from Israel, described the situation there as “chaotic and unsettled.”

“Normal life has come to a halt. People are scared and angry. Even as I was leaving, I heard sirens and had to go to a shelter,” she said.

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