PH authorities planning to save 300 OFWs from rocket attacks in Israel

Philippine labor authorities in Israel are eyeing the evacuation of some 300 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the southern part of the country, which is being bombarded with Palestinian rockets.

Labor Attaché in Israel Rudy Gabasan (Screengrab from Zoom meeting)

"If it escalates into a war, we have to evacuare them to a safer place," Labor Attaché in Israel Rudy Gabasan said via Zoom meeting-slash-press briefing Friday afternoon, May 14. The briefing was organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Manila.

Aside from the 300 workers, Gabasan said Philippine authorities also intend to extract 10 Filipinos in the Palestine-controlled Gaza Strip amid the renewed conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

He said the 10 Filipinos are there with their Palestinian spouses. "Mas matindi po yung sitwasyon nila doon dahil nagre-retaliate ang Israel (The situation is worse there because Israel has been retaliating)."

Gabasan said that while there have been no reports of Filipino casualties in the offensives between the two sides, "the current situation is tense because rockets continue to enter the southern cities ."

He said that among the affected areas are Ashkelon and Ashlon, where the OFWs are. He said the Palestinians began their rocket attacks against Israel last Saturday, May 8.

"Ang instruction po ni Secretary sa akin ay magkaroon ng communication sa mga OFWs para malaman kanilang sitwasyon (The Secretary's instruction to me was to establish communication with the OFWs to learn about their situation)," he said.

Gabasan, who is based in Tel Aviv in metropolitan Israel, said he has already spoken with parishes and hotel associations in the southern cities in order to provide Filipinos with temporary shelter in case of an evacuation. The Philippine rapid response team is also on standby.

He said he continues to keep in touch with local Filipino community leaders as they wait for developments in the situation.

There are 29,700 OFWs in the whole of Israel.