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Cyprus

Cruise ship passengers describe alarming situation in Israel (Updated)

Larnaca port, Israel-Gaza, cruise ship
Arrival of a cruise ship at Larnaca port

The island’s ports have been put on full alert on Friday under a plan to evacuate thousands of Israelis and foreign nationals by sea to Cyprus.

Initial plans include using the ports in Limassol and Larnaca and the first ships are expected to arrive within the day.

A cruise ship carrying approximately 1,000 passengers arrived at the port of Larnaca.

The port’s manager Constantinos Paschalis spoke about the measures taken for the arrival.

“Today we saw the arrival of a ship coming from Haifa, carrying 1,000 passengers, of which 300, mostly Europeans, were going to repatriate,” he told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

“We have activated all security protocols and informed all relevant authorities, and we are ready to assist with any requests.”

The cruise ship berthed at Larnaca port around 12.40pm, and preparations were underway to receive and assist the passengers based on the provisions of the national ‘Estia’ plan, ensuring their safe and smooth transit to Larnaca airport for repatriation.

The passengers on board the cruise ship vividly described the alarming situation in Israel.

Natalie, a British passenger, left Israel with her spouse on the ship due to numerous flight cancellations. She was originally planning to travel to Rome but decided to leave Israel by sea.

She told the CNA of her plans to return to the UK and shared concerns about her daughter, who lives in Haifa with her family. Her daughter’s trip to Dubai had to be postponed due to the ongoing crisis.

Another passenger, Annata, described the situation in Israel as terrifying, with chaos prevailing in the country. She expressed shock that terrorists managed to carry out attacks, take hostages, and harm children. She mentioned an elderly woman who survived the Holocaust but was captured or held hostage.

Annata also revealed her plan to return to Israel and support her friends and family during this critical period, saying that while she loves Greece and Cyprus, her heart and mind are with her homeland.

Three 19-year-old passengers from Israel also shared their reasons for returning. One passenger was in Rome for a vacation but decided to return to be with friends and family amid the ongoing crisis.

He expressed concern for his friends serving in the Israeli military. The second passenger described the situation as extremely terrifying, highlighting the uncertainty and concern for the future. He, too, intended to join the Israeli army and serve his country.

The third one told the CNA he has “no fear of returning to Israel”, underlining the importance of protecting his home and family. He mentioned that his friends were safe, except for one who is currently enlisted and serving in the military.

As the passengers disembarked from the cruise ship, approximately 150 Israeli passengers who had arrived in Cyprus from various European countries boarded the ship to return to Israel.

The cruise ship, which typically operates the Haifa-Larnaca route during the summer, is expected to return to Haifa on Saturday carrying additional passengers.

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