Tuesday, July 23, 2024


720 Mexicans have been evacuated from Israel by Air Force

All Mexicans who requested assistance to leave Israel amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war have left the country, the federal government reported Sunday.

However, a Mexican woman and man remain missing after they were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, and a Mexican doctor is stranded in the Gaza Strip.

Arrival of Mexican citizens from Israel in Madrid
The Mexican citizens were welcomed in Madrid by the Mexican ambassador to Spain on Sunday. (SRE/X)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) said in a statement that two Mexican Air Force planes transported 158 Mexican citizens from the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv to Madrid, Spain, on Sunday.

The Boeing 737 aircraft subsequently returned to Israel to collect 275 other Mexicans who remained at the Ben Gurion International Airport, the SRE said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Alicia Bárcena said on the X social media site shortly before 12 a.m. Monday that the two planes had departed Israel for Mexico City.

Those flights – carrying elderly people, pregnant women, children and others whose repatriation was prioritized – are scheduled to land at the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) near the capital later on Monday after making several stops on their return trips.

Mexican woman arrives from Israel
A Mexican woman kissed the ground upon arriving in Mexico on one of the humanitarian flights on Wednesday. ( MARIO JASSO/CUARTOSCURO.COM)

The SRE said that “all the people who, up until this weekend, requested to leave the region are now out of the conflict zone.”

The evacuations were carried out in accordance with instructions given by President López Obrador and “thanks to the efficient actions of the Ministry of National Defense,” the ministry said.

It noted that the flights out of Israel on Sunday came after 287 Mexicans were repatriated last Wednesday, 11 more than initially reported.

On X, Bárcena said that the SRE’s “protection strategy” for Mexican citizens also included “land evacuations to Jordan,” but she didn’t reveal how many people left the country that way.

Alicia Bárcena
Foreign Affairs Minister Alicia Bárcena has urged Israel to allow foreigners to leave Gaza. (SRE/X)

The Mexicans flown to Madrid “received assistance to continue with their return trips to Mexico and other points in Europe,” the SRE said.

“The SRE, via the Mexican Embassy in Spain, negotiated with the airline Iberia a preferential price for 30 seats per day on direct Madrid-Mexico City flights starting Monday Oct. 16. By Sunday, the Embassy had received 53 requests to purchase these preferential tickets,” the ministry said.

Based on SRE numbers, the Mexican Air Force has now evacuated 720 Mexicans from Israel, including the 433 people who left the country over the weekend.

Two Mexican hostages held by Hamas
The two Mexican hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 are believed to still be held in Gaza. (Images retrieved from X)

López Obrador said last Thursday that 764 Mexicans who wanted to leave Israel remained stranded. While the SRE said Sunday that all Mexicans who requested to leave the country had departed, it did not explain the discrepancy between the figure cited by the president and the number of people who left Israel on the most recent Air Force flights.

Meanwhile, authorities believe that Ilana Gritzewsky and Orión Hernández – the two Mexicans who were captured by Hamas during the militant group’s violent incursion into Israel – are still being held in the Gaza Strip. Bárcena said Saturday that the SRE is in contact with their families and is “making a great effort to achieve their release.”

In a separate post on X on Saturday, the foreign minister said she had been in contact with the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA, to ask it to provide support to Barbara Lango, a Mexican anesthesiologist currently in the Gaza Strip.

Bárcena observed that Israel is not allowing anyone to leave the Gaza Strip via the enclave’s border with Egypt.

“It’s urgent to make an appeal to Israel [to allow foreigners to leave Gaza] because even war has rules,” she wrote.

Lango, originally from Mazatlán, Sinaloa, worked for Doctors Without Borders for two years and remained in Gaza after finishing her last assignment with that organization, according to her father, Porfirio Lango.

Mexican doctor Barbara Lango
Mexican doctor Barbara Lango, who worked for Doctors without Borders, and her husband are both stranded in Gaza. (Images retrieved from social media)

“She’s been on several missions in Africa, in Yemen, in Haiti with the earthquake … and last year, almost the entire year, she was in the Gaza Strip,” Porfirio Lango, who is also a doctor, said in a media interview.

He said that his daughter and her husband, who acted as an interpreter for Barbara during her medical work in Gaza, had been forced to leave Gaza City, where they lived, for Khan Yunis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

“The situation [in Gaza] is horrifying, bombs are falling everywhere,” said Lango, who has been communicating with his daughter via WhatsApp.

He called on Mexican authorities to do all they can “to get my girl out” of Gaza.

“She dedicates herself to saving lives,” Lango added as his voice broke with emotion.

Mexico News Daily 

720 Mexicans have been evacuated from Israel by Air Force

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