By Sharon Thambala
Bengaluru, April 1 (IANS) Around 1,550 Israelis left stranded in India due to 21-day nationwide lockdown since March 24 midnight have flown back home over the week in seven flights, a diplomat said on Wednesday.
“We have flown about 1,550 Israelis home (Tel Aviv) in seven rescue flights from New Delhi, Mumbai and Goa (Panjim), Isareli consulate deputy consul-general Ariel Seidman told IANS here.
The Israelis, including tourists, flew in two Israeli airlines El Al and Arkia and state-run Air India.
In the last rescue flight from Dabolim airport in Panjim on Monday night, 105 Israelis, including 95 stuck in north India, and 10 from Karnataka, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu flew in the chartered plane to Tel Aviv.
“The last batch of 105 Israelis boarded an Arkia chartered plane on way to Tel Aviv from Bangkok with 65 Israelis who were also stranded in Thailand,” recalled Seidman.
All the Israelis who flew from India paid for their airfare.
“The 10 Israelis drove to Panjim in cars on Monday after staying overnight in Bengaluru,” said the diplomat.
Of the 10 from south India, a couple of them are in their mid-40s and one aged above 70.
The deputy consul thanked the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu police for facilitating the tourists’ drive to Panjim, 590km northwest of Bengaluru.
“The tourists had police escort all the way from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to Goa,” noted Seidman.
Karnataka deputy police commissioner M. Ashwini supervised the tourists escort through the state border to Goa.
The country is under a lockdown till April 14 to contain the coronavirus spread, with all domestic and international flights, train and bus services suspended for three weeks since March 25.
“Most of the Israelis were backpackers touring India after their army assignment in the Israeli Defence Forces,” Seidman pointed out.
The tourists came to India during February and fanned out across the country.
“Though they (Israelis) were not tested for coronavirus in India, they are under a 14-day quarantine in Israel,” added Seidman.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted atAthambalasharon@gmail.com)