Safe at last: over 160 Portugease touch down on Portuguese soil

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The long-awaited flight for Portuguese citizens yearning to leave Israel has finally touched down on Portuguese soil.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joo Gomes Cravinho, was at Figo Maduro airport this morning to greet the more than 160 arrivals, including 152 Portuguese, 152 Portuguese-Israelis, and 14 other nationalities (including, according to Lusa, Spanish, Irish, Bulgarians, and Lithuanians).

Tamara da Silva, a dual Portuguese-Israeli national, was among those who arrived in Lusa, and she could not commend Portugal’s assistance enough.

She stated, “What Portugal did was incredible.” Tamara was accompanied by her Portuguese husband and three children, ages 7, 5, and 18 This morning we left Larnaca (on the south-eastern coast of the island of Cyprus) on a large aircraft (TAP, chartered by the government), and everything was extremely well-organized (…) “thank you, Portugal!.

“We couldn’t imagine having to stay there for another day,” she added.

Micael Silva and Ana Rita Cavaco, both Portuguese researchers who were just a few days away from becoming parents, had been working at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, approximately 30 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, for more than a year and had been in constant contact with the consular emergency office in the Israeli capital.

Ana Rita stated, “We were aware that this repatriation mission was occurring, we were in constant contact with the consular emergency office, and the fact that we were nearing the end of our pregnancy accelerated our decision to come.”

“Things could escalate, and then it would be very difficult to come,” they stated.

Jonathan Ianai, who is also married to a Portuguese-Israeli woman, arrived with his wife and three children but “didn’t know yet” where he would be residing.

He told Lusa, “I don’t know what to expect; we tried to convince the children that this was an adventure, lest it cause them mental distress.”

When asked if his family had received any indication from Portuguese authorities regarding how they would be housed, he admitted “not yet” and expressed confidence that they will “find a place to stay.”

Ianai did not clarify whether the family “has the conditions to stay for a long time” in Portugal, but emphasized that they “hope this (the war) will end quickly.”

“The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are working hard to find everyone responsible for what happened, but it’s a difficult task because thousands of people, thousands of terrorists, unexpectedly entered Israel,” he said.

“We saw how much the United States invested in capturing Bin Laden, and I believe Israel will do the same: It will not rest until it finds and brings to justice all those responsible for these crimes.”

Minister Gomes Cravinho stated that his government was “pleased that this operation was carried out despite extremely difficult circumstances.”

He expressed his “deepest condolences” to the family of deceased Portuguese-Israeli student Rotem Neumann and disclosed that “four more (Portuguese citizens) are missing.”

Gomes Cravinho also acknowledged that “approximately 2,000 more Portuguese” are on consular registries in Israel but have not yet expressed a desire to return to Portugal.

Student from Portugal missing in Israel discovered dead

Air Force flight to support return of Portuguese from Israel

The synagogue of Porto’s Jewish community was found guilty of graffiti against Israel.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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