SOME 300 Filipinos living near the Gaza Strip are safe, Philippine Ambassador to Israel Macairog Alberto said yesterday.
They went back to work following the ceasefire between the Israeli government and Hamas on May 21, he said during the Laging Handa briefing.
Majority of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) living in Israel, including those working in the city of Ashkelon have also went back to their normal activities.
“Mapayapa na po ngayon ang sitwasyon sa Gaza, ganun din po sa Israel. So, inaasahan po nating magpatuloy ang katahimikan–so wala na pong rocket attacks, wala na pong mortar attacks dito sa Israel,” Alberto said.
He explained Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket defense system, the government’s advance warning system, and the availability of bomb shelters were put in place to ensure the safety of the people in Israel including Filipino workers.
“Masisiguro po natin kasi una, yung depensa po ng Israel, yung tinatawag na Iron Dome. So, kung meron po rocket attack na nangyayari, mataas po ang porsyento na masasagupa nila yung mga rocket attack. So, ligtas po ang Pilipino rito,” Alberto said.
Filipinos who wish to work in Israel were told to wait for the announcement of the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on lifting the current deployment suspension.
“Hintayin po natin ang advice ng POEA. Pero sa ngayon po, tuloy po ang lipad ng mga eroplano, ang international flights dito sa Israel,” Alberto said.
There are currently 29,473 Filipinos in Israel.
PH vote backing probe into Gaza violence
Meanwhile, Alberto said he has met with the Israeli government following the Philippines’ vote backing the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council’s investigation on the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.
This came after Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned Alberto for a “clarification discussion” over the issue.
He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and his office are working to ensure that the recent vote will not impact the diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“Nakakasiguro po kayo na ang DFA, ang embahada ng Pilipinas, ay ginagawa ang lahat para mapanatili po na maganda ang relasyon natin sa bansa ng Israel (You can rest assured that the DFA, the Philippine embassy are doing everything to maintain our good relationship with Israel),” Alberto said.
Earlier, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to solidify a truce between Israel and Hamas.
Tensions escalated in Gaza earlier this month after Israeli security forces attacked Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets.
Hamas responded by firing a barrage of rockets into Israel while Israel retaliated with an offensive that resulted in 250 Palestinian deaths. Philippine News Agency