• DFA raises alert level in Israel, West Bank

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    The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday raised alert level 2 for Filipinos in Israel and the West Bank because of the continuing violent conflict in the Gaza Strip.

    In a statement, the department said it raised alert level 2 or restriction phase in Israel and the West Bank because of threats posed by armed conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.

    Alert Level 2 is issued when there are real threats to the life, security and property of the Filipinos arising from internal disturbance, instability and external threats.

    The Filipinos are instructed “to restrict non-essential movements, avoid open spaces and prepare for evacuation.”

    Alert level 4 (mandatory repatriation) remains raised in Gaza.

    The Philippine government continues to implement the mandatory repatriation of the Filipinos from Gaza.

    There are still some 100 Filipinos there after 11 of them were moved from Gaza to Amman, Jordan.

    “The DFA continues to closely monitor developments in the Israel-Hamas conflict,” the statement said.

    More than 500 Palestinians have died since Israel initiated a ground offensive after a two-week battle that saw the two territories trading rockets and missiles.

    Tensions between Israel and the Hamas group have been long-standing and are primarily based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman, asked Filipino tourists to postpone their visit to Israel.

    He said a travel advisory that is included when the department issues alert level 2 in Israel and the West Bank calls on Filipinos to defer non-essential travel.

    But ultimately, according to Jose, “the decision is up to them [tourists],” saying Philippine immigration officers will not be blocking the Filipino tourists because there is no total deployment or travel ban to Israel.

    Only newly hired employees are not allowed to go there, he added.

    Meanwhile, Jose said the Philippine embassies in Tel Aviv and Amman may help move the Palestinian spouses of the Filipinos in Gaza but the embassies will not be footing the bill.

    He, however, assured that the DFA will be shouldering the repatriation expenses of the children of the Filipinos.

    There are 100 Filipinos in Gaza Strip, 116 in the West Bank and 34,000 in Israel.

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