Espreso. Global

Work on evacuation of over 300 Ukrainians from Gaza continues - Ambassador Korniichuk

23 October, 2023 Monday

Yevhen Korniichuk, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Israel, says that 337 Ukrainian citizens have so far volunteered to evacuate, mostly in the southern Gaza Strip near the Rafah crossing to Egypt

He said this on Espreso TV. 

"Our partners demanded that Israel postpone the ground operation, as it could lead to an unexpected number of civilian casualties. In addition, we are talking about the urgent evacuation of foreigners from the Gaza Strip, including Ukrainians. To date, 337 Ukrainian citizens have volunteered to evacuate, mostly in the south of the Gaza Strip near the Rafah crossing to Egypt. In general, the number of foreigners in the Gaza Strip who are ready to evacuate is approaching 10,000," said Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Israel.

According to him, all European governments have asked the Egyptian one to facilitate the evacuation as soon as possible and have also appealed to the Israeli government. The ground operation is still being postponed because everyone understands that as soon as the evacuation of foreigners takes place, this operation will begin immediately.

"We are checking those Ukrainians who have volunteered for evacuation. All our citizens are being identified. We have now found that about half of the citizens who want to evacuate have either expired or damaged passports, meaning that they need to enter their newly born children or give them a temporary return certificate. And then, as soon as the evacuation from Gaza takes place, the Egyptians give us 48 hours to bring our citizens to Egypt and then arrange their departure to third countries. We are talking about one of Ukraine's neighboring countries. Our evacuation team is ready, including consuls and military personnel who are in Egypt. They are ready to pick up our citizens and carry out this evacuation," explained Yevhen Korniichuk.

Korniichuk added that in 2021, a similar evacuation of about 200 Ukrainian citizens, 20 Moldovan citizens, and 5 Bulgarians was already carried out. Now partners, initiative groups of Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and Poland are coordinating with each other in contact in the Gaza Strip on the same principle.

Events in Israel: what is known about Ukrainians

On the morning of Saturday, October 7, 2023, the Palestinian armed groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched a massive air and land attack on the state of Israel in several places. The head of the Hamas military wing, Mohammed Deif, said that his militants had launched the Al-Aqsa Flood operation. According to him, these actions are intended to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians launched 2,000 to 3,000 missiles at Israel and simultaneously seized 7 communities in the south.

In response, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced the mobilization of reservists and the launch of the Iron Swords counterterrorism operation. For the first time in 50 years, the government introduced martial law in the country

At that time, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry announced the creation of an operational headquarters to help Ukrainians in Israel. Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel Yevhen Korniychuk said that the embassy receives appeals from Ukrainian citizens from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. 

On Saturday evening, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported that a Ukrainian citizen could have been killed in the hostilities in Israel. At the same time, it became known that the operational headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine had tracked down a Ukrainian who had disappeared in southern Israel the day before. At the same time, there were up to 200 Ukrainian citizens in the Gaza Strip.

On October 8, it was reported that two Ukrainian citizens had been killed in Israel. Diplomats took steps to repatriate their bodies.

A day later, diplomats evacuated a Ukrainian boy from the Israeli city of Sderot who had been injured in a militant attack. In particular, five citizens who were reported missing in southern Israel were found.

On October 10, diplomats tracked down seven more Ukrainian citizens in Israel. The Embassy also helped six families find temporary accommodation in Israel.

On the morning of October 11, Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko reported the death of another Ukrainian in Israel. As of October 12, seven Ukrainians had been reported dead. 

As of October 13, eleven Ukrainian citizens were reported dead, and nine more were missing. Also, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Israel Yevhen Korniychuk said that the information that the Ukrainian citizens missing in Israel may be held captive by Hamas terrorists has not been confirmed. 

On October 14, Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets arrived in the Egyptian capital Cairo to help Ukrainians get out of the Gaza Strip: 243 people needed to be evacuated at the time.

In the evening of the same day, the first evacuation flight with Ukrainian citizens took off from Tel Aviv, Israel.

As of the evening of October 15, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, Ukraine had managed to evacuate more than 200 citizens from Israel and Gaza. About 260 more Ukrainians are still in Gaza.

On October 16, a second evacuation flight with 155 Ukrainian citizens took off from the Israeli capital Tel Aviv for Romania. Also, a third evacuation flight with 74 Ukrainian citizens took off from Tel Aviv to Bucharest.

On October 20, the Israeli Defense Ministry and the Israeli Defense Forces announced that they would begin evacuating residents from the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, which is located on the border with Lebanon.

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