MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said the country's embassy in Israel has not received any reports of Filipino casualties in airstrikes between the Israelis and Palestinians, as violence between the two sides escalated.
In a message to reporters, DFA Office of Strategic Communication and Research Executive Director Ivy Banzon-Abalos said the Philippine Embassy is in touch with the Filipino community there and that “contingency plans are in place.”
“The embassy is in touch with Filipino organizations and networks; shelters are there to provide refuge, including for Filipino workers; contingency plans are in place for developments in the situation,” Abalos said.
In a statement, meanwhile, the agency expressed "serious concern" over the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine and called on all parties to engage in dialogue to lower tensions.
Hamas Islamists from Palestine in Gaza have fired more than 1,000 rockets towards Israel since Monday evening, causing tensions to soar, according to Israeli authorities.
The Israel side has also launched airstrikes, with the death toll on both sides mounting.
As of Wednesday morning, the most intense hostilities in 7 years have killed at least 43 people in Gaza, including 13 children, two Palestinians in the West Bank, and five Israelis, triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
The violence happened as Palestinian families were on the throes of being driven out of their homes in East Jerusalem as Israeli settlers sought court reprieve.
"The Philippines urges all parties to exercise restraint and seek dialogue to de-escalate tensions and avoid further actions that could affect future Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations," the DFA said.
President Rodrigo Duterte early last year said the Philippines would continue to have friendly and cooperative relations with Palestine, which recently re-established its embassy in the country.
The development, Duterte said, signaled the "new chapter in Philippines-Palestine relations," according to state media.
In 2012, the Philippines supported an independent Palestinian state, hoping that "one day an independent Palestine may live side by side in peace with its neighbors."
In 1947, the Philippines, under the administration of President Manuel Roxas, cast the tie-breaker vote at the UN to separate Israel from Palestine.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse