YEREVAN — A first group of 149 people was evacuated from Israel to Armenia on Monday on a special flight organized by the Armenian government.
The chartered flight landed at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport just over a week after Hamas launched its surprise attack from the Gaza Strip, reigniting the conflict in the Middle East.
The evacuees included not only Armenian nationals but also ethnic Armenian citizens of Israel and other foreign countries.
“I live and work here, it’s my children who live there [in Israel],” one of them, a middle-aged woman from Yerevan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service at Zvartnots. “I was always going to come back. I went there for a few days.”
“I worked at a university there on a one-year contract,” said another, younger woman. “It’s not clear what is going to happen there next. Things may escalate, get even worse. That is why returning to Armenia is a safer option.”
The Armenian Embassy in Tel Aviv began registering people for the first repatriation flight last week. The Foreign Ministry in Yerevan indicated later on Monday that it could arrange more flights if necessary.
“We can also inform that as of now there have been no reports of Armenian citizens or ethnic Armenians being among victims of the hostilities,” the ministry said in a statement.
Other countries have also evacuated their citizens from Israel due to the escalating conflict.