Philippines prepared for escalation in Israel-Hamas conflict — DFA

Kristine Daguno-Bersamina – Philstar.com

November 4, 2023 | 5:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government assured the public of its readiness to handle emergencies and crisis situations if the Israel-Hamas conflict escalates into a regional war. 

During a news forum held in Quezon City on Saturday, De Vega said that the Philippine embassies in Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon have already established contingency plans to deal with any potential expansion of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. 

The contingency plans have been in place for a while due to the inherently volatile nature of the region.

“Well, naalala ninyo kagabi may ipinahayag iyong mga Hezbollah na sinisisi nila iyong Amerika, iyong Estados Unidos sa gulo pero wala silang sinabi na gigiyerahin nila ang Israel – war is never positive but we have to take it that there’s some welcome news or some positive news that so far we have not seen an escalation,” he said.

(If you recall from last night, Hezbollah pointed fingers at the United States for the conflict, but had not made any direct threats against Israel. War is never positive but we have to take it that there’s some welcome news or some positive news that so far we have not seen an escalation.)

De Vega also said that some Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv, are returning to normal, according to Filipinos living in Israel.

During the forum, De Vega discussed plans to evacuate Filipinos from Gaza. He said that 20 Filipinos are scheduled to leave Gaza on Sunday, having registered for departure from the war-torn region through the Rafah Crossing into Egypt. 

Within the next two days, an additional 23 individuals are expected to follow suit. 

De Vega said that convincing all Filipinos to leave Gaza has proven to be a challenge, as many are hesitant to leave their Palestinian spouses or parents behind.

He also reported that Filipinos are returning from Lebanon, where Israeli forces are currently engaged in an exchange of fire with Hezbollah.

Since Hamas militants launched a shock October 7 attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon’s southern border has seen escalating tit-for-tat exchanges, mainly between Israel and Hezbollah, an ally of the Palestinian group, stoking fears of a broader conflagration. — with a report from Agence France-Presse


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