DFA rapid response team arrives in Israel

By Danny Buenafe, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau Chief

Posted at Nov 21 2012 12:40 PM | Updated as of Nov 22 2012 11:15 PM

ISRAEL – The three-member rapid response team of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is now in Tel Aviv to oversee repatriation plans for more than a hundred Filipinos in Gaza, currently at the center of heavy bombardment from Israeli forces.

Ambassador Petronilla Garcia and his team’s mission is the temporary repatriation of Filipinos, many of them married to Palestines.

None of the affected Filipinos would like to go home to Manila. Instead, they just want a reprieve -- temporary shelter in Cairo for at least 30 days.

A separate DFA team will assist Filipinos at the Cairo border and the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv will serve as command center for a phone brigade to reach out to Filipinos in Gaza.

“Tinatawagan sila regularly ng Philippine Embassy sa Cairo and Philippine Embassy sa Tel Aviv para alamin kung sino sa kanila ang gustong mag-avail ng programang ito ng guberyo para ilikas sila sa gerang nangyayari sa Gaza,” said Ambassador Garcia.

For now, 15 have expressed desire to move out of Gaza. Ambassador Generoso Calonge said the Cairo repatriation plan would include 17 Palestinians, all married to Filipina women.

“Susubukan din nating kung mailalabas din natin yung mga asawa para di ma split ang mga pamilya,” Ambassador Calonge said.

While world leaders continue to hold ceasefire talks, the exchange of rocket attacks would not stop between Israeli forces and Hamas.

More than a hundred Palestinians and three Israelis are dead and the number of civilian casualties continues to rise.

There are 41,000 Filipinos in israel, of which more than 90-percent are caregivers. They continue to receive periodic advisories from the embassy. With Arnold Eligado, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau