First Belgian repatriation flight departs from Tel Aviv

A flight carrying 92 Belgians and rights holders and 13 Europeans is on its way from Tel Aviv to Belgium, the country's Defence minister announced on X.

Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder said on Saturday morning that an A400M defence aircraft had left for Tel Aviv via Cyprus to pick up Belgians who wanted to be evacuated.

"A military flight is safer and will allow the evacuation to be carried out in the safest possible conditions," Foreign Affairs minister Hadja Lahbib said on Friday. 

About 10,000 Belgians with dual nationality and at least 180 tourists are currently on the ground, Lahbib said. Prime minister Alexander De Croo said on Sunday that more flights would follow if necessary.

Belgium is also working with the United States on finding ways to repatriate people from Gaza, Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said on Sunday.

The border crossings between Gaza and Israel are hermetically sealed, and the border post with Egypt is also currently closed, preventing anyone from leaving the area. 

Belgium is trying to work towards a solution at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, but it is proving very difficult, Van Quickenborne said. "We are doing everything we can to free these people as soon as possible," he said.



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