A flight carrying the first batch of Indians, who were stranded in Israel amid the ongoing war, landed in New Delhi under 'Operation Ajay' on Friday (October 13) morning. As many as 212 Indian nationals from Israel arrived at the Delhi airport. Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar was present at the airport to welcome them. With folded hands, Chandrasekhar greeted the returning Indians. He then interacted with the students.
Demand will dictate if more flights are needed
No less than 212 students were evacuated on Thursday from strife-hit Israel on an Air India flight bound for Delhi. "The demand will dictate if more flights are needed," said Sanjeev Singla, the Indian Ambassador to Israel. The entire Indian diplomatic team was present at the airport to bid farewell to the students. "We were set to leave on the 8th after visiting our daughter who is pursuing her PhD. But with Air India flights getting cancelled, we were stranded," said Ashwani Sharma from Himachal Pradesh, who had travelled with his wife. Relieved, he boarded the Air India flight, noting that the alternative was a more cumbersome route through Dubai.
Operation Ajay's mission is to evacuate students, caregivers, and other Indian nationals from Israel. While students seemed eager to return, caregivers appeared less so, according to embassy sources.
Passengers were asked to arrive at least six hours early
The flight was scheduled to depart from Tel Aviv at 10 pm and arrive in Delhi early on October 13. The chaos at Ben Gurion Airport was evident as numerous foreign missions scrambled to evacuate their citizens. "The heightened demand led to flight cancellations, resulting in massive queues," stated airport officials, advising passengers to arrive at least six hours early.
In the backdrop of the escalating tensions, India initiated Operation Ajay to assist its citizens in returning from Israel. With an estimated 18,000 Indians in Israel, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar commented in a post on X, "We're arranging special charter flights and are fully dedicated to the safety and welfare of our overseas nationals." The multi-pronged attacks against Israel by Hamas militants from Gaza since Saturday and the subsequent Israeli retaliation have left around 2,150 people dead.
Watch: First flight carrying 212 Indian nationals from Israel, lands in Delhi under Operation Ajay.