Israel-Hamas Conflict: Goan Pilgrims Return To Their State In Nick Of Time Before War

Israel-Hamas Conflict: Goan Pilgrims Return To Their State In Nick Of Time Before War

The conflict in and around Gaza since October 7 and has caused considerable concern in the State, especially since a number of Goans have been participating in pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

THE GOAN NETWORKUpdated: Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 09:39 PM IST
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A group of Goan pilgrims at the Mount of Beautitudes in Israel days before the Israel-Hamas conflict. | The Goan Network

PANAJI: When dozens of Goans returned to the State after a memorable and spiritually uplifting pilgrimage to Israel on October 6, little would they have known that the Israel-Hamas conflict would start barely a day later.

The conflict in and around Gaza since October 7 has caused considerable concern in the State, especially since a number of Goans have been participating in pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

A leading tour operator based in Panaji, who has organised dozens of pilgrimages to Israel, said he would be postponing two pilgrimages scheduled for this month.

Speaking to The Goan, Paul Siqueira of Zion Tours and Travels, who has personally visited the Holy Land over 90 times and organised pilgrimages to the place over 200 times, said he had returned from Israel only three days ago.

Goan pilgrims thank the Lord

“I thank the Lord that we returned safely on October 6. We had four groups in September from Goa, Sydney, and Melbourne. All returned safely one day before the war could start. God is faithful and our pilgrims had an awesome experience,” said Siqueira.

“I was initially planning to return to Israel with another pilgrim group on Thursday. However, while half of the group was keen on going ahead with this pilgrimage, the other half was concerned about the safety and security.”

“Considering the volatile situation in the country, which is on high alert, I decided to postpone my two groups going this month and they will be rescheduled to March and April next year. The people have understood and are very cooperative as this is a genuine situation.”

“The European and American market have also cancelled most pilgrimage groups because of advisories of their governments. A few Indian groups are currently there but they are leaving soon,” he added.

Siqueira said the rest of the country is very tense, as the volatile situation could erupt anytime.

Entry-exit point for Goans

“The land borders of Sheik Hussein and Taba are open for the groups to enter and exit. The Tel Aviv airport is closed as many airlines have closed their flights.”

“Although the pilgrim sites like the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Mount of Olives and Mount Zion are not affected till date, people are scared, and their families are concerned too”, he said.

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