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Most Cypriots wishing to leave Israel have done so, advisory issued (Update 3)

palestinian gunmen infiltrate areas of southern israel
A Palestinian boy reacts next to a burning Israeli vehicle that Palestinian gunmen brought to Gaza after they infiltrated areas of southern Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip October 7, 2023. REUTERS/Mahmoud Issa

Most Cypriots in Israel have returned safely to the island, ambassador Kornelios Korneliou said on Monday, following the surprise attack by Hamas on Israel, which led to a retaliation by Israeli forces.

He added that a large group of tourists visiting the holy sites in Israel is expected to return to the island soon, while another 15 Cypriots are in the country, who have not found a flight back to the island or do not want to return.

“Most have returned. All Cypriots are safe and sound. There are no reports of casualties or injured Cypriots,” he said on Monday from the embassy offices in Tel Aviv.

The Cyprus News Agency reported that one of the three groups in Israel for pilgrimage tourism, numbering about 300 people, arrived on Sunday night in Cyprus, while the second group will depart from Tel Aviv on Monday.

Since Saturday, when the attack by Hamas against Israel began, the Cypriot embassy has been on the alert to aid Cypriots who were in the neighbouring country either for medical procedures, tourism, or other reasons.

Meanwhile, foreign ministry spokesman Theodoros Gotsis said that the great majority of those who contacted the embassy over the weekend have managed to return to Cyprus on commercial flights which are continuing to fly.

He added that there remain a few dozen who have so far contacted the authorities with the expectation that if the flights continue, they will be able to return normally on commercial flights.

Gotsis said that two groups of tourists who were in Israel returned last night, while the return of a third group is expected.

Commenting about Cypriots, who are permanent residents in Israel, Gotsis said that they have been informed by those individuals that they will remain in the country for the time being.

Gotsis said that there are also five Cypriot patients being treated at Israeli hospitals. He added that they are there with family members, and that they will remain in the hospital.

“These are the cases that the state is directly responsible for, and from the first instant the embassy contacted them directly,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of needing to evacuate nationals of European and third countries from Israel and the role of Cyprus in such a case, Gotsis said, after noting that for now commercial flights to Cyprus continue, that “given our political position in the crisis and our support to Israel, certainly if needs arise, these are matters that will be examined by the services”.

Commenting on whether Cyprus will have to deal with refugees from Israel due to the fighting, Gotsis said that the government will consider this when a need arises.

In an announcement later in the day, Cyprus Airways said that their flight programme to and from Tel Aviv continues as scheduled. The company added that they are currently examining increasing the capacity on their flights.

“Cyprus Airways, in order to facilitate passengers travelling between Tel Aviv and Larnaca, announces that it is waiving ticket reissuance fees for passengers who hold a valid ticket until November 15 and wish to travel earlier or later.”

Cyprus Airways added that it continues its flight schedule between Larnaca and Tel Aviv as normal, while considering a further increase in capacity, if the situation allows for the safe execution of flights.

A day before TUS airways had announced that it would be increasing it flights between Larnaca and Tel Aviv to assist people wishing to leave.

Meanwhile, asked to say whether Cyprus has been asked to provide facilities after the US decision to send its warships to the region, Gotsis said that “these are matters of national security”.

“The political position we have taken is clear. The security services are doing their job,” he said.

Bishop Nektarios of Kiti, who is in Tel Aviv for a religious conference, will remain in Israel until Wednesday.


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