Still no open ‘corridor’ for Filipino repatriations
‘Too early,’ says Israel ambassador

Still no open ‘corridor’ for Filipino repatriations

/ 05:38 AM October 13, 2023

Rocket barrages launched towards Israel from Gaza

Rockets are fired by Palestinian militants into Israel, in Gaza City Oct. 7, 2023. (Photo by MOHAMMED ED SALEM / Reuters)

The repatriation of Filipinos in Gaza may take a while as the Israeli government has yet to consider opening humanitarian corridors.

Esty Buzgan, Israeli Embassy in Manila deputy chief of mission, said at an online press briefing on Thursday that it was “too early” to make such a move since the surprise attacks carried out by Hamas militants happened just a few days ago.


“[Israel] is not yet talking about the humanitarian corridor,” Buzgan told reporters. She added, however, that the matter was raised during a conversation between President Marcos and Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss on Tuesday although she did not give additional details.


At least 70 Filipinos in Gaza Strip have asked to be repatriated due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, which has so far taken the lives of two overseas Filipino workers. There are 137 Filipinos in Gaza and 30,000 more in Israel.

AFP plan in place

On Wednesday night, Mr. Marcos assured affected Filipinos that they would be brought back home to the Philippines “as soon as possible” once Israel opens its “humanitarian corridors.”

“We are waiting for the permission of the Israeli [government], because [they] will tell us when we can fly to repatriate Filipinos. That’s what we’re fixing now,” he said.

Col. Medel Aguilar, the Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, also said that the military had already prepared an evacuation plan, including the possible deployment of C-130 and C-295 military aircraft.

The Department of Health likewise promised to provide psychosocial support, including stress debriefing sessions, to returning Filipinos affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa made the commitment to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Arnell Ignacio, saying that stress debriefing was the “standard first step” for those suffering from social and emotional distress in humanitarian emergencies.


Safe passage

Humanitarian corridors or safe passages, as defined by the International Committee of the Red Cross, are agreements between the parties in an armed conflict to allow for safe passage for a limited time in a specific area. While in effect, civilians can leave, humanitarian assistance is allowed to come in while the wounded, sick or dead may be evacuated.

While Israel may not be considering the idea for now to prevent another Hamas infiltration, Buzgan said that Filipinos may leave by crossing the Egyptian border.

READ: 2 Filipinos confirmed dead in Israel-Gaza war

“There are other options to leave the Gaza Strip via Egypt. That’s currently another possibility and it needs to be coordinated with them, of course,” she added.


Buzgan, however, gave an assurance that the Israeli government was looking out for the safety of Filipinos in their country.

She also thanked Mr. Marcos for supporting Israel against Hamas and told reporters that he had thanked Fluss for safely evacuating 20 Filipinos from southern Israel, the area most damaged by the conflict.

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“The Filipinos in Israel are the same as any other citizen. They are part of us … and we treat them just like our kids, our sisters and brothers,” Buzgan said. “As you stand by Israel, Israel stands by you.”

TAGS: Conflict, Gaza, Hamas, Israel

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