MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs has ordered the mandatory repatriation and evacuation of Filipinos in Gaza after the Israel military announced that it is planning a coordinated offensive into the Palestinian territory by land, air and sea.
The DFA on Sunday declared Alert Level 4 over the Gaza strip — its highest crisis alert level — signaling that Filipinos are now required to leave the area
DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said that while the Philippines has announced a mandatory repatriation of Filipinos, officials will not be physically forcing civilians to leave their homes.
“But we are telling you to leave. And if you choose to stay behind, we can’t stop you, we cannot prevent it,” De Vega said in Filipino in an interview with Radyo 630.
De Vega said on Friday that at least 92 out of the 131 Filipinos in Gaza have requested repatriation, but officials are struggling to find a viable exit point as Gaza is under blockade.
The Philippines and other countries are still waiting for a humanitarian corridor to open either via Israel or Egypt, De Vega added.
At least three Filipinos have been killed in the Hamas attacks in Israel, one of which was a caregiver who his family believes stayed behind to protect his sick employer, according to the DFA.
According to Gaza authorities, nearly 1,900 Gazans — most of them civilians and including over 610 children — have been killed in retaliatory air strikes conducted by the Israeli military.
After being attacked by Hamas militants, Israel declared war against them and fired thousands of munitions at Gaza targets, flattening entire neighborhoods.
The United Nations and others have asked for the order to be rescinded, as the 1.1 million people affected —nearly half of Gaza’s entire population of 2.4 million — had nowhere to go. — with reports by Agence-France Presse