163 S. Koreans arrive home from Israel on military aircraft

재무 2023-12-07 09:12:14 2

More than 160 South Korean nationals arrived home from Israel aboard a military aircraft late Saturday, the foreign ministry said, after an armed clash broke out between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Hamas group.

A KC-330 military transport plane carrying 163 South Koreans landed at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, at 10:45 p.m., the ministry said.

The plane flew to Israel on Friday and departed from Tel Aviv early Saturday.

The plane also brought 51 Japanese and six Singaporean nationals, as part of Seoul's efforts to provide humanitarian cooperation, the ministry added.

It marked the first such transportation of South Koreans by a military plane and the second flight to bring South Koreans home from Israel following the return of 192 people aboard a Korean Air plane Wednesday.

The government decided to dispatch the military plane as air carriers increasingly suspended flight operations to and from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv amid the intensifying conflict, officials said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Koichi Mizushima, Japan's top envoy to Israel, expressed gratitude to the South Korean government for the emergency transportation of its people, according to Seoul's foreign ministry.

Of the 163 people on board, 82 were short-term travelers, while the rest were residents.

About 470 South Koreans remain in Israel. Most of them are residents living there long-term and have chosen to stay behind of their own accord, a foreign ministry official said, adding the diplomatic mission there continues to advise them to leave the area for safety.

Roughly 630 South Koreans had been staying in Israel before the military plane took the people aboard.

No South Korean casualties have been reported since the conflict began.

A rapid response team consisting of foreign ministry officials also boarded the military plane to assist with the transportation, the ministry said. (Yonhap)

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