Military jets bring back 163 South Koreans from Israel

A South Korean military aircraft brought back 163 nationals home from Israel, along with some 60 foreigners on Saturday.

Seoul: A South Korean military aircraft brought back 163 nationals home from Israel, along with some 60 foreigners on Saturday amid the raging conflict between the Jewish nation and the Hamas militant group, the Foreign Ministry here said.

A KC-330 military transport plane carrying the South Koreans departed from Tel Aviv early Saturday and is expected to land at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, later at night, Yonhap News Agency quoted the Ministry as saying.

The plane is also bringing 51 Japanese and six Singaporean nationals, as part of Seoul’s efforts to provide humanitarian cooperation, it added.

The plane left for Israel the previous day.

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

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

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Of the 163 people on board, 82 were short-term travellers, 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.

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