The first batch of stranded Indians who returned home on Friday from Israel amid the ongoing conflict with Hamas, are eager to narrate their ordeal.
Saurav (30), an Indian student pursuing post-doctoral in chemical engineering from Technion in northern Israel, found himself stuck in central Israel when the Hamas attack started on October 7.
“The main affected areas were southern and central Israel. Unfortunately, I was present in central Israel,” he told IANS.
“I took shelter in a shelter room when the sirens started. Every building in Israel already has shelter rooms and are easily accessible. Anyone can reach these within a minute,” he added.
“Later, after Israel’s retaliatory action, I returned to northern Israel,” he said.
Saurav, who was evacuated under ‘Operation Ajay’ along with several other Indians, told IANS that the Israeli government was swift in facilitating evacuation and providing shelter to the students after the Hamas attack.
The first flight bringing Indians took off from Ben Gurion International Airport in the outskirts of Tel Aviv on Thursday night.
“We all were very scared. But, we received specific instructions from the Indian embassy.
“We received Google forms via mail from the Indian embassy and were informed that the Ministry of External Affairs would run a chartered flight from Tel Aviv to Delhi.”
Praising the Centre, Sourav told IANS that he knew that the Indian government would make evacuation efforts, but didn’t expect such a swift action.
As the Israel-Hamas war intensifies and the death count nears 3,000, the Indian government has started the evacuation process under ‘Operation Ajay’.
“Launching Operation Ajay to facilitate the return from Israel of our citizens who wish to return. Special charter flights and other arrangements are being put in place. Fully committed to the safety and well-being of our nationals abroad,” External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar posted on X on Thursday.