Dutch defence ministry continues Israel repatriation flights

Evacuees are welcomed home by family in Eindhoven. Photo: Rob Engelaar ANP

The Netherlands will continue to operate flights to repatriate people from Israel as long as necessary, a foreign affairs ministry spokesman told news website Nu.nl on Thursday. 

Nevertheless, the foreign affairs ministry is recommending Dutch nationals leave already if they can, given that the security situation could change rapidly.  

As yet it is unclear how many Dutch nationals in Israel want to return to the Netherlands. According to RTL Nieuws, some 500 people had registered with the foreign affairs ministry, but their number has since increased.

One military plane was dispatched to Tel Aviv on Wednesday and arrived back in the Netherlands late in the evening, bringing out some 200 people. Their number included students from the Ede hbo college and pupils from a Rotterdam high school, news agency ANP said.

A KLM flight scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled and the defence ministry is currently organising a second repatriation trip from Cologne.

KLM said that the safety of its crew and passengers is of primary importance and that it had been forced to cancel Thursday’s flight. “This was a very difficult decision to take because we realise that many people are looking forward to a flight back,” the airline said. 

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