​First OPERATION AJAY Flight Brings 212 Stranded Indians Home from Israel
​First OPERATION AJAY Flight Brings 212 Stranded Indians Home from Israel

New Delhi: In a remarkable humanitarian effort, the inaugural charter flight of 'Operation Ajay' successfully repatriated 212 Indian citizens from Israel, landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi at approximately 6 a.m. this Friday. The flight had departed from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, carrying 211 adults and one infant, who had been living amidst the tumultuous situation in the conflict-stricken region.

Passenger selection for this historic flight was based on a "first come, first serve" system, implemented following an earnest initiative by the Indian embassy, urging all Indian nationals to register their details on the mission's database. The Indian government generously covered the expenses associated with their return.

The flight, which took off at 22:14 local time, was organized to facilitate the safe return of those who had been unable to do so due to the immediate suspension of Air India flights on the day hostilities began, which remains in effect to this day.

At the departure terminal of Tel Aviv's airport, a long queue of anxious Indian citizens, including students, eagerly boarded the special flight, part of the 'Operation Ajay' mission.

This operation was set into motion in response to Israel's decisive action against the militant group Hamas, which had breached the border and initiated hostilities on October 7. In the ensuing conflict, Israel sustained significant casualties, with over 1,300 lives lost, including 222 soldiers, marking the highest toll since the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria. In the Gaza Strip, under the rule of Hamas, at least 1,417 people, including women and children, perished in the violence.

Grateful for the assistance, Shubham Kumar, a student onboard the flight, expressed his relief, saying, "We are thankful to India. Most of the students were a bit panicked. Suddenly, we saw a notification and the links for every Indian citizen from the embassy of India, which boosted our morale."

Another student shared his experience, explaining that while life in northern Israel seemed relatively normal, he received an email from the embassy, prompting him to return home. He said, "I couldn't handle the pressure from my family and friends, and even though things were quite normal, I am happy to go home but sad to see the problems here."

The Indian embassy initiated contact with the first batch of registered Indian citizens for this special flight, with further notifications scheduled for subsequent flights.

The embassy has already announced a second flight for the following day (Friday) and has sent out email registration invitations for those seeking to return on a "first come, first serve basis."

Earlier in the week, Foreign Minister Jaishankar announced the commencement of 'Operation Ajay' as an effort to facilitate the return of Indian nationals who desired to come back to their homeland.

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