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EVACUATION FLIGHTS OF CITIZENS FROM ISRAEL UPDATE

(The Situation Update Report [SUR] is a near real-time brief of a possible threat or situation being monitored by The Counter Threat Center. The information is accurate at the time of reporting, but may be subject to change.)


William Bos, Gabriel Helupka, Ludovica Leccese, Dan Flanagan, Marisol Negrete, Nicholas Novak

Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor

October 12, 2023


Ben-Gurion Airport Terminal[1]


Current Situation: At the time of reporting, the Counterterrorism Group (CTG) has confirmed that the following countries are either preparing or have initiated evacuations for their citizens.


United States: The US State Department announced that starting October 13, the US will arrange charter flights to assist US citizens and immediate family members unable to book commercial flights. The charter flights are expected to facilitate the repatriation of “thousands” of US citizens “per week.”[2] Albania: The first Albanian evacuation plane departed Israel on October 8, with more evacuation flights planned.[3] Argentina: Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero announced that 235 Argentinians registered in the ministry’s evacuation registry for an evacuation flight its Consulate in Tel Aviv is preparing.[4]

Austria: Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg announced that two evacuation flights departed Tel Aviv for Vienna on October 12. 176 Austrians were repatriated.[5] The ministry has another evacuation flight planned for October 13.[6]

Australia: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that Australia would send two repatriation flights to Israel. Albanese said the first flight will arrive on October 13 followed by a second flight on October 14.[7]

Belgium: Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on October 12 that they will bring back Belgian travelers from Israel. No further information is available at the time of reporting.[8]

Brazil: The Brazilian Foreign Ministry announced on October 8 that the Air Force is preparing evacuation flights from Ben-Gurion Airport to repatriate Brazilian citizens. The Brazilian embassy in Tel Aviv opened a registration form.[9] Bulgaria: Bulgaria dispatched a government-owned Airbus A319-111 to evacuate citizens from Tel Aviv to Sofia.[10]

Canada: The Royal Canadian Air Force has sent two CC-150 Polaris, callsigns CFC4169 and CFC4172 to repatriate Canadian nationals.[11] Approximately 130 Canadians will be repatriated, said Canadian Defense Minister Bill Bair.[12]

Chile: President Gabriel Boric announced on October 9 that a state-owned plane departed Santiago to return Chilean citizens. Boric announced the state will also conduct flights from Tel Aviv to Madrid, Spain, to bring Chileans “passing through to other destinations” due to flight cancellations.[13]

Croatia: The Foreign Ministry announced repatriating citizens is a priority, and the ministry is working to arrange transportation for Croatian nationals.[14]

Colombia: The Colombian Foreign Affairs Ministry said on October 12 that the first humanitarian flight departed Tel Aviv in the early hours of the day. The flight repatriated 110 Colombian nationals. A second aircraft departed Bogota shortly after to continue repatriating citizens wishing to return to Colombia. More flights are expected.[15]

Czech Republic: The Foreign Affairs Minister announced it is sending government-operated special flights to evacuate Czech citizens from Israel.[16] Repatriation flights will continue until the end of the week on October 15.[17]

France: Flight #CTM1048 (A332) carrying French nationals took off on October 11th from Ben Gurion International Airport. The French Foreign Ministry chartered the flight.[18]

Fiji: The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on October 11 that it established an Operations Center to repatriate Fiji nationals.[19]

Finland: On October 11, The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced it is preparing evacuation flights for Finnish citizens in Israeli and Palestinian territories who require assistance. The evacuation also applies to permanent Finnish residents.[20]

Germany: The German government announced the country’s flag carrier, Lufthansa, is operating special charter flights on October 12 and October 13. At least four flights departed Tel Aviv so far as of late local time on October 12. Around 950 German citizens were able to leave.[21]

Greece: The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced 81 out of 149 registered individuals departed on two flights from Ben-Gurion Airport to Athens. Further arrangements are being made for the remaining Greek visitors.[22]

Hungary: The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that it has evacuated 325 Hungarian citizens from Israel overnight on October 8.[23]

Italy: On October 9, the Italian Foreign Ministry, in coordination with the Ministry of Defence, activated a third military plane to bring Italian nationals in Israel back to their country.[24] A B7674 callsign #IAM1432 arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport to repatriate around 600 Italian nationals on October 11.[25] The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed seven flights were organized to take place between October 10 and 11 to repatriate around 900 Italian nationals.[26]

Mexico: The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on October 9 that it was sending two flights to repatriate citizens from Israel. Around 300 Mexican nationals expressed interest in returning to Mexico.[27]

Montenegro: The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced evacuation flights will continue until October 10 based on the current security conditions and time requirements for citizens to arrive. As of October 9, 60 citizens contacted the ministry, with 48 indicating they wished to return to Montenegro.[28]

Netherlands: The Dutch Ministry of Defence sent an A330 MRTT, callsign #MMF56 to repatriate Dutch nationals. The aircraft took off from the Air Base in Eindhoven. The flight landed back in the Netherlands on October 11 at around 2300 local time.[29]

North Macedonia: The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced it is preparing plans to evacuate over 100 registered citizens who wish to leave Israel.[30]

Norway: The Norwegian foreign ministry initially scheduled repatriation flights but they were canceled due to the insurance company of Norwegian Airliners no longer covering flights to Tel Aviv.[31]

Panama: The Foreign Ministry announced two evacuation flights from Israel to Greece for Panamanian citizens.[32]

Poland: Poland dispatched several Polish Air Force transport planes to evacuate nationals. The flights had detachments of special forces to ensure protection and safe boarding.[33] The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said on October 9 that three planes landed in Warsaw, with a fourth on its way.[34]

Portugal: The Air Force sent a C-130 plane to evacuate an unknown number of nationals from Tel Aviv. Operating conditions for Portuguese evacuation flights are dynamic depending on security conditions and are under constant evaluation.[35] Paraguay: On October 9, National Chancellor Rubén Ramírez announced the country is analyzing ways to evacuate Paraguayan nationals from Israel safely. Ramírez deemed repatriation a priority.[36] Serbia: An Air Serbia plane evacuated Serbian citizens from Tel Aviv at around 2240 local time on October 8. Air Serbia will continue regular flights between Tel Aviv and Belgrade.[37]

Slovakia: A government-owned A319 with callsign #SSG006 is currently waiting to take off from Ben Gurion International Airport, carrying around 100 Slovak nationals.[38]

Spain: Flight #AME4539 (A332) carrying Spanish nationals took off on October 11 from Ben Gurion International Airport. The flight was chartered by the Spanish Ministry of Defense.[39] Sweden: The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced it is preparing flights to repatriate Swedish citizens on October 11.[40]

Switzerland: Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is planning a flight from Tel Aviv to Zurich on October 10. Reservations are available via the SWISS call center, as reservations cannot be made online due to SWISS technical problems. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs is in contact with Swiss nationals in Israel.[41]

Thailand: Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced on October 9 that he ordered the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Air Force, and related agencies to begin evacuations of Thai citizens immediately.[42]

India: On October 11, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar announced the launch of Operation Ajay to facilitate special charter flights to return Indian citizens from Israel.[43] On October 12, Jaishankar chaired a ministry meeting on the operation and said the first flight would arrive later in the evening.[44]

Romania: A government-owned Boeing 737 (FN ROT2153) landed in Tel-Aviv during the early afternoon of October 8 to evacuate Romanian nationals out of Israel.[45] Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu posted on X shortly after that ministry personnel were in Tel Aviv to repatriate Romanian citizens.[46]

Russia: During an October 10 brief, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the ministry is exploring possibilities for evacuating Russian citizens. Zakharova said Russian diplomatic missions are making preparations and providing necessary assistance to citizens in need. The ministry’s priority is evacuating people “directly” from combat zones.[47]



Day/Time of event: October 9-12, 2023


What is the current threat:

  • Most international flight operators will very likely extend suspensions of flight operations to and from Israel. An intensifying Israeli ground and air offensive into the Gaza Strip and retaliatory Hamas strikes near major aviation infrastructure will very likely prolong these suspensions. Due to uncertain security conditions, Ben-Gurion International Airport will likely face a backlog of commercial flights in the coming days. This will likely prompt additional countries to consider initiating or expanding evacuation flights as commercial flights become limited.

  • There is a roughly even chance that additional commercial airlines will face insurance issues due to the evolving conflict. This will likely lead to more cancellations as insurance coverage drops, likely resulting in countries resorting to military flight evacuations. Foreign nationals in Israel will likely attempt to obtain a seat on other countries' evacuation flights.

  • Some countries likely have not sent evacuation flights due to logistical issues related to the number of passengers they would need to evacuate and navigating security conditions.


Who will it directly impact:

  • Foreign nationals in Israel

  • Aviation operators

  • Foreign ministry personnel

  • Military personnel


Recommendations:

  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends foreign nationals remain in contact with their local embassy or consulate. We recommend following their guidance and registering for crisis response updates within the embassy.

  • CTG recommends foreign nationals and security professionals review our previous updated Situation Update Report (SUR) on border closings and possible evacuation routes. We recommend checking the current status of border crossings as they may change with the evolving situation.[48]

  • CTG recommends that airlines carrying out evacuation flights take precautionary measures against possible rocket attacks. We recommend airlines coordinate with defense ministries to ensure countermeasure systems such as flares, early warnings, detection radar systems, or Doppler radar systems are in place.

 

[2] U.S. Government to Assist U.S. Citizens in Departing Israel, US State Department, October 2023, https://www.state.gov/u-s-government-to-assist-u-s-citizens-in-departing-israel/

[3] Mia_gov_al, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[4] SantiagoCafiero, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[5] A_Schallenberg, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[6] Ibid

[7] RADIO INTERVIEW - ABC RADIO MELBOURNE DRIVE, Prime Minister of Australia, October 2023, https://www.pm.gov.au/media/radio-interview-abc-radio-melbourne-drive-0

[8] Alexander De Croo, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[9] Situation in Israel and Palestine - Repatriation of Brazilians, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 2023, https://www.gov.br/mre/en/contact-us/press-area/press-releases/situation-in-israel-and-palestine-repatriation-of-brazilians

[10] Playback of flight BGF121, from FlightRadar24, via CyberHUMINT

[11] CFC4169, from FlightRadar24, via CyberHUMINT

[13] GabrielBoric, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[14] Ensuring repatriation of Croatian citizens is a priority, Republic of Croatia Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, October 2023, https://mvep.gov.hr/press-22794/ensuring-repatriation-of-croatian-citizens-is-a-priority/262935

[15] The first humanitarian flight from Tel Aviv took off with 110 nationals on board, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, https://www.cancilleria.gov.co/newsroom/news/despego-110-connacionales-bordo-primer-vuelo-humanitario-tel-aviv

[16] Mzvcr, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[17] P_Fiala, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[18] Radar_Assistant, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[19] Fiji_MOFA, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[20] Evacuation flight from Israel, Foreign Affairs Ministry, October 2023, https://um.fi/aktuellt/-/asset_publisher/gc654PySnjTX/content/evakuointilento-israelista

[21] AuswaertigesAmt, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[22] Update by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the repatriation of Greek citizens from Israel and the Palestinian territories (Athens, 08.10.2023), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 2023, https://www.mfa.gr/en/current-affairs/statements-speeches/update-by-the-ministry-of-foreign-affairs-on-the-repatriation-of-greek-citizens-from-israel-and-the-palestinian-territories-athens-08102023.html

[23] Szijjártó Péter, from Facebook, via CyberHUMINT

[24] Foreign Minister’s commitment to the return of compatriots from Tel Aviv, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, October 2023, https://www.esteri.it/en/sala_stampa/archivionotizie/approfondimenti/2023/10/impegno-della-farnesina-per-il-rientro-dei-connazionali-da-tel-aviv/

[25] IAM1432, from FlightRadar24, via CyberHUMINT

[26]Israel: Farnesina-Difesa, other flights to repatriate compatriots, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 2023, https://www.esteri.it/it/sala_stampa/archivionotizie/comunicati/2023/10/israele-farnesina-difesa-altri-voli-per-rimpatrio-connazionali/

[27] Government of Mexico sends two flights to Israel to repatriate Mexican people in a conflict zone, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 2023, https://www.gob.mx/sre/prensa/gobierno-de-mexico-envia-dos-vuelos-a-israel-para-repatriar-a-personas-mexicanas-en-zona-de-conflicto

[28] MFA_MNE, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[29] DefensieMin, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[30] Announcement, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 2023, https://mfa.gov.mk/en/page/13/post/3543/soopshtenie

[31] Utenriksdept, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[32] CancilleriaPma, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[33] AndrzejDuda, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[34] Poland_MOD, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[35] Israel: Military plane has already left Portugal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 2023, https://portaldiplomatico.mne.gov.pt/en/communication-and-media/press-releases/israel-military-plane-has-already-left-portugal

[36] Chancellery articulates mechanisms for the secure evacuation of Paraguayans in Israel, Paraguayan Information Agency, October 2023, https://www.ip.gov.py/ip/chancellery-articulates-mechanisms-for-the-secure-evacuation-of-paraguayans-in-israel/

[37] Airserbia, from X, Via CyberHUMINT

[38] Scan_sky, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[39] Alternativewip, from X, Via CyberHUMINT

[40] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing flights for Swedes out of Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 2023, https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2023/10/utrikesdepartementet-forbereder-flyg-for-svenskar-ut-ur-israel/

[41] Statement Israel / OPT, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, October 2023, https://www.fdfa.admin.ch/eda/en/fdfa/fdfa/aktuell/newsuebersicht/statements/israel.html

[42] Thavisin, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[43] DrSJaishankar, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[44] MEAIndia, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[45] Flight history for Tarom flight RO2153, from FlightRadar24, via CyberHUMINT

[46] Odobes1Luminita, from X, via CyberHUMINT

[47] Excerpts from briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, October 10, 2023, Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, October 2023, https://mid.ru/en/press_service/spokesman/briefings/1908554/

[48] BORDER CLOSURES AND POSSIBLE EVACUATION ROUTES OUT OF ISRAEL UPDATE, by Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg, Gabriel Helupka, Magdalena Breyer, Dan Flanagan, Nicholas Novak, Wissal Mabrouk, Ludovica Leccese

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