Mid-East contingency plans ready in case Israel-Hamas conflict escalates --- DFA

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Saturday, Nov. 4, assured that contingency plans are ready in case the Israel-Hamas conflict escalates and spreads throughout the Middle East 

Israel_Hamas4.jpegBombing in Gaza (Photo from AFP)

Citing DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) affirmed that the Philippine government, through its embassies and consulates in Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon, are ready to effectively respond to emergencies and crisis situation there.

“Nais namin ipabatid sa inyo na mayroong contingency plans iyong mga embahada natin sa Israel at sa Lebanon pati sa Jordan. Nakikipag-ugnayan kami sa kanila. (We want to let you know that there are contingency plans there in our embassies in Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. We are coordinating with them),” the official said in a news forum in Quezon City.

“Matagal nang may contingency plans itong mga embahada kasi palagi namang volatile ang situation doon (These embassies have the contingency plans for a long time because the situation in the [Middle East] is always volatile),” he furthered.

Despite Hezbollah’s criticism of the United States’ interference in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, the DFA official explained that there was no announcement of a planned attack on Israel.

While “war is never positive,” De Vega said “we have to take it that there’s some welcome news or some positive news that so far we have not seen an escalation.”

Hezbollah, a militant group based in Lebanon, is an ally of Hamas. But in a recent statement, the group appeared to have taken a step back from an all-out war with Israel over Gaza.

During the news forum, the DFA official shared about receiving information from Filipinos in Israel that the situation there, particularly in Israeli cities like Tel Aviv, appears to be normalizing.

Two groups of Filipinos from Gaza are expected to arrive in the Philippines after Egypt allowed them to cross the Rafah border crossing, which was temporarily opened for humanitarian considerations.

The Filipinos, De Vega, said would have to leave Cairo within 72 hours as what was agreed upon with the Egyptian government.

Though more Filipinos are expected to be repatriated, the official feared that some would want to stay in Gaza since they could not take their Palestinian spouses with them.

Crisis alert level 4, or mandatory repatriation, is currently raised in Gaza Strip by the Philippine government amid the violence there between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Hamas group.

The recent strife started on Oct. 7 when Hamas ambushed Israel and killed 1,400 civilians. In retaliation, Israel launched a massive air offensive on Gaza that already left 8,000 civilians dead.