The diplomatic and military operation to evacuate Argentines in Israel following the surprise attacks of the terrorist grouping Hamas began last Thursday with a preliminary contingent already arriving in Rome from Tel Aviv.
According to midweek Foreign Ministry data, the number of citizens registered to return from Israel was already 1,419 people with the government aim being to bring them home “as fast as possible.”
"With the work of the Defence Ministry and Aerolíneas Argentinas, we will start an air bridge from Tel Aviv and Rome," highlighted Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero in press statements while pointing to the participation of Hercules C-130 aircraft of the Air Force.
He further underlined his Ministry working "with the AMIA [Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina] Jewish community centre via private initiatives to evacuate Argentines faster.”
The operation to repatriate Argentines in Israel surprised by the terrorist attacks of Hamas implied a delicate diplomatic and military logistics to pull out the citizens requesting an exit from the war zone.
Already early on Thursday the contingent of evacuated Argentines was arriving at Mario De Bernardi military airport in Rome to be assisted by the Argentine Embassy before taking the return flight to Argentina.
In charge was the operational commander of the Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff Jorge Fabián Berredo, who detailed that the Hercules C130 aircraft flying out of El Palomar air base last Tuesday have Cyprus as their operational base.
From there they started on Thursday the airlifts from Tel Aviv to Rome, where they assembled "a temporary shelter," explained Berredo.
Talking to Pan y Circo, the Radio Rivadavia programme hosted by Jonathan Viale, the military officer explained: "We’re estimating three daily air bridges for a daily 210 people to be completed this weekend, already having a safehouse in Rome to bring them to this country."
After indicating that the Foreign Ministry is "in charge of establishing flight priorities and who embarks in each flight", Berredo manifested that the task "does not cease to be a joint military operation where the Air Force participates with its strategic air transport aircraft along with military defence attachés in Tel Aviv and Rome to connect an embarkment zone in the latter with a temporary shelter from where to transfer compatriots being evacuated from Tel Aviv by Aerolíneas Argentinas".
A total of nine air bridges is the expectation although more are not ruled out if more Argentines want to leave the zone.
"God willing, this weekend they will all be safe and sound in Rome," said Berredo.
On being consulted why Hercules aircraft were being used for these flights and not Aerolíneas Argentinas, he said: "We are entering an airport which is a war zone and the C130s are the best and versatile system with the greatest capacity of response to enter."
He further warned that the situation could oblige the military and diplomatic authorities "to make decisions on the trot."
"We are concentrating on this first response, which requires a whole lot of organisation, coordination, etc. We have the risks very much in mind, we are evaluating them, but we cannot set aside over 630 Argentines waiting for us to arrive. We men of arms have that commitment," he concluded.