DFA: Voluntary repatriation on for Filipinos in Gaza
MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos in the Gaza Strip can opt for voluntary repatriation as the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) raises its alert level for the area Sunday, July 13, as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate.
"In view of the growing threats to security posed by the Israel-Hamas conflict to Filipinos in the Gaza Strip, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised Alert Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation) in the Gaza Strip," the DFA said in a statement.
This comes after the DFA Saturday evening, July 12, placed Gaza under Alert Level 2, or the Restriction Phase, under which Filipinos are advised to restrict movement. There are 109 Filipinos in the area.
Meanwhile, Alert Level 1, or the Precautionary Phase, is currently in effect over the West Bank and in southern and central Israel – home to around 113 Filipinos – the department said.
An estimated 36,400 Filipinos are in Israel.
"The Philippine Embassies in Cairo, Tel Aviv, and Amman are ready to assist those who wish to leave Gaza," the DFA statement added.
Violence between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas erupted Tuesday, July 8, after last month's kidnap and murder of three young Israelis in the occupied West Bank and the brutal revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.
Israel cracked down on Hamas, though the Islamist group declined to confirm or deny involvement in the abductions, and Gaza militants hit back with intensified rocket fire.
Calls for a ceasefire from numerous groups and foreign governments went unheeded, with the death toll rising to 157 on Saturday, July 12 – mostly in the Palestinian side.
Aside from these areas, the DFA also placed Kenya under Alert Level 2, also due to a declining security situation in the country. Under this alert level, only returning overseas Filipino workers with existing contracts can be deployed. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com